Arming Armenia With Missiles
As the Muslim-majority Azerbaijan is receiving military aid from Turkey and Pakistan, the former Soviet Republic is in an advantageous position in the initial stages of its ongoing border conflict with neighbouring Armenia. The scenario has prompted the Christian-majority Armenia to seek defence support from India. The Armenian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement, saying that Yerevan recently informed Indian External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar that attempts have been made to attack the sovereignty of Armenia.
India has expressed serious concern over recent clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani Forces, stating that New Delhi will export missiles, rockets and ammunition, including indigenous Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers, to Yerevan, in order to help defend the nation.
Reports suggest that India and Armenia struck a deal in the last week of September 2022 on the basis of which New Delhi would export arms to Yerevan through a Government-to-Government route. Although the Government of India has not revealed the value of the contracts, the Narendra Modi Administration has hinted that India will supply weapons worth more than INR 245 million in the coming months. In a rare first, India will also export indigenous Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers that have been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Research and Development Wing of Indian Ministry of Defence. Armenia shall also receive anti-tank rockets, as well as a range of ammunition, from India under the deal.
It may be noted that the Pinaka rocket launchers, made with indigenous technology, had played an important role in India’s victory in the 1999 Kargil War against neighbouring Pakistan. The Indian Army recently deployed these truck-mounted missile launchers, with a striking range of 90km, along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh in order to counter a possible Chinese incursion. This Multiple Rocket Launcher is capable of firing 72 missiles in just 44 seconds. A section of Defence Experts believes that the Indian missile shall help the Armenian Army prevent the attack of Azerbaijan.
Nearly 6,500 people were killed in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 over the occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The region is inhabited mostly by ethnic Armenians, while seven surrounding districts were inhabited mostly by Azerbaijanis until their expulsion during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. Some of these territories are de facto controlled, and some are claimed by the breakaway Republic of Artsakh; although they have been internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan. The Kremlin had mediated a ceasefire in 2020. This time, it is not possible for Russian President Vladimir Putin to play that role, as he is busy with the Ukraine crisis.
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