by Seymur Mammadov
An exclusive interview by defence.az with Alexey Sinitsin, main expert ant American-Azerbaijani Progress Promotion Foundation.
- A number of Indian and Armenian media outlets have been writing that Armenia is going to purchase hi-tech weapons from India. There is no information about the financial volumes of the deal. The articles only that Armenia intends to purchase radars and sub-caliber shells. Should we take this piece of news seriously?
- Why do we have to believe that these procurements are even real? I remember how a couple of years ago Sargis Harutyunyan, a correspondent at “Radio Azatutyun”, informed that the Armenian Defense Ministry acquired AR1A, the Chinese multiple launch rocket system with a 130 km shooting range within an agreement on military and military-technical cooperation, signed in January 2012. So? It turned out to be misinformation.
But one has to admit that the Armenians create convincing “covers” for their misinformation. Well at least for the peasants. They travel to Chinese or Indian plants, make some kind of “gentlemen’s agreements” about possible procurements and all of it is knowingly “dumped” into mass media. For Armenians it is misinformation targeted at disorienting the enemy, in this case Azerbaijan, and for Indians it is advertising.
I have seen that article in Hindustan Times, which mentions Armenia in passing. However, it is important to understand that India is one of the largest importers in the world and far from being an armament exporters. They rank 26th in the world in this indicator, but of course dream of something bigger. But it is not working out yet for them. Even the Americans by Indian crash helmets, but more serious armaments have proven to be challenging for them.
Let’s take sub-caliber shells for instance. They are designed against heavily-armored equipment. The Indians started producing “Mango” based on a Russian license. But what really “hides” behind this exotic name is an anti-armor sub-caliber ammunition that dates back to Soviet times.
Then again, it soon became clear that the “Mango” by Indian DRDO company is much inferior to the similar ammunitions of Russian manufacture. The Indian version of this missile is even in a worse shape.
So, do you think Armenia is ready to purchase poor quality missiles for universal prices? We are talking of missiles which have more than once exploded while still inside the tank. Of course, they are not ready. This is why fruitful Armenian-Indian military cooperation is another bluff, just like the procurement of Chinese reactive artillery was.
- In December 2017 the Armenian allocated 625,000 USD to the newly established “Geokosmos” CJSS for space surveillance of the territories of neighboring countries. Our website mentioned this back in December, when we talked to the Belorussian expert Alexander Alesin, who said that the “space surveillance” project does not amount to much and does not have any future. But considering that this is a very topical issue in Armenian media, we would like to follow up and ask you. Do you believe in this project? Is an amount of 625 thousand USD really the amount, which may allow Armenia develop “space surveillance”?
- This project, known as the Armenian “Geokosmos” CJSS, indeed has no military future. I am not going to repeat what other experts already said. I will just mention several key details, which escaped them.
Right now, Armenians, and I quote their sources, only have receiving stations, which over dismantled. And even if they get it into shape, which they will not be able to afford for 625 thousand, it will still not be able to receive data from military satellites. Military satellites are different civil ones in the way they transmit encoded data to earth stations.
Ciphers are one of the greatest secrets of any army. It is something that is not shared even with allies. Russia is wonderfully aware of how Erevan cajoles NATO. It was Levon Ayvazyan, head of defense policy department at the Armenian Ministry of Defense, who said enthusiastically while commenting on Armenian collaboration with the North Atlantic Alliance: “Our political decision is that it (cooperation) will continue in the upcoming years as well”. And after all of this, does anyone even believe that Russia will share its ciphers with Armenia? I mean will they follow the advice of a dumb blonde, who says “Don’t keep your secrets at home, better keep them at your BFF’s”?
- Russia recently sent a new batch or armaments to Azerbaijan. What kind of equipment is it? How can it be efficient in a war against Armenia?
- Armenia literally choked out of rage, when they found out that the latest batch included the BTR-82A. It is the most real, full-fledged, wonderfully equipped and fail-safe combat vehicle. Back then Defense News published an article under a very telling title: “Strykers Need Bigger Gun to Fight Russia”. An established American expert, Colonel John Meyer had compared the star armored vehicle of the US army, the “Stryker”, with the Russian BTR-82A. And he ruefully stated the fact that the American BTR is much inferior to the Russian one in firing capacities.
But the Armenian army has neither the “Stryker”, nor the “BTR-82A”, whose 100-mm main gun and the 30-mm rapid fire gun paired to the main one can “bring an entire battalion to their knees”, as some military men say. It is quite clear why Armenians went on a rampage.
Some 10 years ago, Wayne Merry, expert at the American Foreign Policy Council, was raptured over occupied Karabakh, saying that “it was an unassailable fortress, even more strengthened by Armenian military units. Even the American army would find it difficult to attack such a fortress.” It would seem that even the Armenians believed the tales of the expert.
But at the moment they are living through a cognitive dissonance of sorts, and “explosion of senses”. The April events of 2016 proved that the Armenian “fortress” can fall even without a large-scale introduction of latest equipment and armaments into the combat zone. As the Azerbaijani army limited its use of modern fire damage equipment, with the exception of the “Spike” anti-tank guided missile. But where they did employ it, the effect was mind-bending.
Just try to imagine the Russian batch of ammunition, supplied to Azerbaijan – T-90 tanks, “Msta-S” and “Vena” self-propelled artillery mountings, heavy flamethrower system TOS-1A “Solntsepek”, MLRS “Smerch”, BMP-3 (infantry fighting vehicle) and others. There is no and can never be military parity between Baku and Yerevan. Would not it be a reason to worry? And you should not repeat what the Armenians say that they are acquiring the same armaments, but for “prices applicable inside Russia, which are much cheaper than international prices”.
I will show a clear example to explain what I want to say. A very eminent and practicing expert, the general director of Sverdlovsk Union of Defense Sectors of Industry, Vladimir Shelokov, once voice interesting numbers regarding how much tanks cost: “The Russian T-72M costs 1.4 million dollars in the world market, the T-80UD “Bereza” – 2 million, the American M1A2 “Abrams” – from 3.2 to 6.9 million, the German “Leopard” – up to 3 million, and finally the French “Leklerk” – up to 10 million”. Shelokov even complains that Russia is deliberately dumping in the arms market in order to win a significant chunk of it. This is why the prices for armaments applicable inside Russia differ from the world prices not by “many fold”, but only by 15-20%. And one should have that money available in the first place. Armenia, for instance, is clearly lacking it.
- Some experts prognosticate the escalation of the Karabakh conflict in 2018. What are your prognoses regarding this issue?
- Many experts nowadays quote the “Worldwide Threat Assessment” by Daniel Coats, Director of US National Intelligence. He does not exclude “largescale combat action” in Karabakh this year. However, Mr. Coats does not elaborate on his criteria of how large this “large scale” is. By the way, his forerunner from the Democratic administration, James Clapper, also predicted a “conflict escalation” in Karabakh each year. But a full-fledged war has still not started there. And it will not start, while the conflicting parties and international mediators agree that Baku and Yerevan still have some negotiating resources left.