Amid reports of disenchantment between Russia and Armenia, the latter has allegedly decided to transfer some Soviet-era military equipment to Ukraine.
Reports published in local media have claimed that the former Soviet state, which has traditionally enjoyed strong ties with Moscow, has decided to transfer Tochka-U missile systems and some other unknown air defense systems to the Ukrainian military.
These claims could not be independently corroborated by EurAsian Times, and Russia has yet to officially respond to these reports at the time of writing this report.
According to preliminary information, Armenia could transfer three Tochka-U to the Ukrainian military. The AFU is not unfamiliar with the use of the Tochka-U missile. The AFU allegedly employed the missile against Russia since the initial days of the war in 2022.
A modernized version of the Soviet Tochka precision tactical missile system, the Tochka-U is intended to strike specific small targets hidden deep within the enemy defense. The most modern Tochka-U model has a range of up to 75 miles (120 kilometers) and can transport several warhead types up to a weight of about 1,000 pounds or more than 450 kilograms.
The reports come after a famous Russian military blogger claimed that Ukrainian forces used a Tochka-U missile to strike Belgorod Oblast on November 19. Without offering any substantial evidence to support his claims, the blogger also said that the Armenian government has begun to prepare to withdraw from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
The CSTO is a Russia-led inter-governmental security alliance of six post-Soviet states. The other members of CSTO, formed in 2002, are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The Armenian transfer of Tochka-U to Ukraine comes at a time when all is not well between Russia-led CSTO and Armenia.
Armenia will transfer Tochka-U tactical ballistic missile systems and Osa-AK anti-aircraft missile systems to Ukraine, Russian source Rybar claims.
According to Rybar, agreements on this may have been reached during a meeting between Armen Grigoryan, Secretary of Armenia’s… pic.twitter.com/1tLGYg52ek
— Clash Report (@clashreport) November 20, 2023
On November 20, the CSTO chief announced that Armenia has asked for the removal of the alliance’s assistance to Armenia from its agenda. “The Armenian side, although all other allies supported this decision, did not express any interest in this document, and they asked to remove the final part of our work from the agenda altogether,” Imamgali Tasmagambetov.
This announcement was a follow-up to the previous decision against attending events of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) because it received no aid that it had requested during an Azerbaijani military incursion on its sovereign territory in May 2021.
Moreover, reports suggest that Yerevan has allegedly decided to supply the Tochka-U to Kyiv after it signed deals with Western countries to acquire cutting-edge military equipment. For instance, French-made armored vehicles, which were previously earmarked for Ukraine, were instead shipped to Armenia earlier this month.
According to a French media outlet, “The first confirmed delivery (to Armenia) is of Bastion light armored vehicles manufactured by the equipment manufacturer Arquus. The Bastion can carry a battle group of eight soldiers, protecting against small arms fire and mines.” Authorities in Georgia have verified that France sent armored personnel carriers, known as ACMAT Bastion, to Armenia through the Port of Poti.
Moreover, the report stated that France could provide 50 VAB MK3 armored vehicles, which offer multi-mission capabilities and elite protection to the military forces. EurAsian Times could not independently verify this particular information. Still, there is bickering that more arms transfer could follow as the French are looking to fill the vacuum amid mounting tensions between traditional allies Moscow and Yerevan.
Away From Russia, Towards The West
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia’s influence has only increased significantly in one post-Soviet nation: Armenia. Russian border guards were stationed at Armenia’s borders with Iran and Turkey in 1992. Three years later, in 1995, the second city of Armenia, Gyumri, welcomed a sizable Russian military installation.
In 2020, Russian peacekeepers were sent to Armenia to help maintain a truce after the country’s 44-day battle with the more powerful, Turkish-backed forces of Azerbaijan, which claimed thousands of lives on both sides.
However, since Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, things have changed. By the fall of 2022, it became evident that Moscow was unwilling to step in when Azerbaijan assaulted Armenian territory.
Things came to a head in September 2023 when Moscow demonstrated once more that it was unwilling to take a chance on a fight with Azerbaijan to help Armenia in the one-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In fact, despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers, nearly all of the 120,000 ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh fled when Azerbaijan reclaimed the separatist province earlier this year.
Although Moscow has denied the accusations, several Armenians held Russia responsible for not intervening to halt what Baku described as an anti-terrorist operation. Analysts believe that Russian actions could be attributed to its decision to focus all efforts and resources on its fight against Ukraine, which has become emboldened with additional Western military support.
However, the Russian inability to come through for its closest ally has triggered a security rethink in Yerevan. In an unexpected development, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in September that his country could no longer rely on Moscow as a guarantor of its security due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Prime Minister stated that Russia’s capabilities have changed as a result of the events in Ukraine while conceding that Moscow was trying to keep Azerbaijan and its close ally Turkey neutral, as both have grown in strategic significance for the Kremlin since the beginning of the war in Ukraine last year.
“Our strategy should be to try in this situation to decrease our dependency on others maximally,” he added. “We want to have an independent country, a sovereign country, but we have to have ways to avoid ending up in the center of clashes between West and East, North and South … There cannot be a case when Armenia becomes a ‘proxy.’ This is not permissible.”
Even if it could not directly participate in the conflict or militarily step in to support Armenia, one option available to Russia was to increase the transfer of arms to the South Caucasian country. However, it has become widely known that amid massive equipment losses, Russia needs all the weapons it can manage to deploy.
Yerevan went so far as to complain that Armenia was forced to turn to Indian suppliers since Moscow could not provide the weaponry it had already paid for. This has also been understood to be why Armenia is progressively engaging with the West and reportedly acquiring arms from them now.
In September, Armenia launched a joint military exercise with the United States, a move that angered its main ally, Russia. At the time, Armenian officials announced that the drills were intended to improve tactical skill sharing and interoperability amongst forces participating in international peacekeeping missions.
Following the declaration by Armenia to bulwark its defenses in October 2023, France has inked the deals for supplying Thales-manufactured Ground Master 200 (GM200) radars and signed a memorandum of understanding to deliver the Mistral short-range air defense system. According to France’s Ministry of the Armed Forces, a second contract was for Yerevan to acquire night vision goggles and equipment manufactured by Safran.
On its part, even the European Union has discussed providing non-lethal military aid to Armenia. The EU Foreign Affairs Council discussed expanding the EU monitoring mission by dispatching additional observers and patrols to the Armenian border during their meeting on November 13. The Council also forewarned Azerbaijan against jeopardizing its territorial integrity and stressed the importance of maintaining vigilance against destabilization in Armenia.
With the strained relationship with Russia and alienation from the Russia-led CSTO alliance, Armenia is increasingly cultivating ties with the West. If the transfer of weapons to Ukraine is authenticated, it could signal a massive change in its security calculations, this time pointing toward Russia itself.