The Geostrategic Dimensions of the South Caucasus and India Armenia Military cooperation amid Russia Ukraine War:
The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has now entered into a “decisive phase”. The most recent speech of Russian president Putin clearly signaled a “negotiated settlement” in which Turkey may play an important role.
However, interestingly by “signing a deal” for the supply of the latest military equipment from India, the “warmongerings” of Armenia and India have now reached a “strategic level” which would change the security equation in South Caucasus. Both countries enjoy a treaty of friendship and cooperation signed in 1995.
India Armenia Military deal:
According to the Indian news outlet Economic Times, Armenia ordered heavy weapons from India worth an estimated $245 million. It includes missiles, rockets, and ammunition amid escalating tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Karabakh region, which was largely liberated by the armed forces of Azerbaijan from Armenian illegal occupation in late 2020.
The Economic Times said the order also includes the first ever export of the indigenous Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers that are also used by the Indian army, as well as anti-tank rockets and a range of ammunition.
Furthermore, India in 2020 had also supplied four Swathi radars to Armenia during the Karabakh war with Azerbaijan.
Pinaka Multibarrel rocket launchers:
The deal was significant because Russian and Polish vendors were also in the race to sell radars to Armenia. However, Armenia was defeated and Russia and Türkiye brokered a peace treaty. Armenia illegally occupied Karabakh and seven adjacent regions Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Qubadli, and Zangilan a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan since 1991.
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Moreover, Armenia has had been indulged in systematic ethnical discrimination, racial genocides, and socio-economic marginalization of peaceful people of Azerbaijan living in these areas for centuries. However, 44 days Patriotic War of 2020 proved “lethal” to all the conspiracies of Armenia, and all these areas were subsequently “liberated”.
War waged by Armenia:
In the near past, Armenia “waged a war” against peaceful Azerbaijan and started large-scale “clashes” in the Karabakh region on Sept. 27, 2020. The Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, violating several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
On its part, Azerbaijan’s armed forces launched a counter-offensive operation, later dubbed “Iron Fist,” which led to the 44-day conflict ending with the liberation of Azerbaijani lands from the occupation of the Armenian forces. The fighting ended with a deal brokered by Russia.
Most recently, during the month of September 2022, Armenia has once again “spoiled” the trilateral peace agreement by violating border security. Furthermore, Armenia continued its “military misadventures” against Azerbaijan forces and civilians through intensive mortars firing on the deployment positions of the Azerbaijani Army on Kalbajar, Lachin, Dashkesan, and Gadabay fronts during the last few months which spoiled the peace agreement. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan showed great restraint.
Recent Military escalation between Azerbaijan and Armenia:
The situation remained tense at the borders. According to the latest official news, more than 70 soldiers were martyred in unprovoked attacks by Armenia. Armenia also approached the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) against the so-called external aggression of Azerbaijan but failed miserably. It also came to the EU and cried for help but did not receive any pledges because of its fascist scheme of arrangements.
The Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar had a meeting with Armenian foreign minister Arara Mirzoyan during the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York 2022. During the meeting on 24th September, Armenian minister Mirzoyan briefed about the military situation on borders. Afterward, both countries signed a military deal.
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India is set to export Missiles to Armenia:
India is now set to export missiles, rockets, and ammunition to Armenia. Among other things, India will also export the indigenous Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers to Armenia to aid the nation against Azerbaijan. It will be the first export of the Pinaka rocket launchers.
For diversifying its military exports, India is following a new paradigm “Make In India” and its government is actively assisting in securing international military orders. The Modi government has set a target to sell defense systems worth Rs.35,000 crore overseas by 2025.
Pinaka Rocket Launchers:
Pinaka rocket launchers are already in service of the Indian army and will be exported to Armenia were designed by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launching system (MBRL) can fire a salvo of 12 HE rockets in 44 seconds.
The rocket launchers are mounted on Tata trucks. Each Pinaka battery has six launchers, 12 rockets, and the DIGICORA MET radar. Each of the launchers can fire in separate directions, as they have their own computers allowing them to function independently. All the launchers can be fired at once, or only some of them can be fired, as per requirement.
It seems that the “geo-strategic dimensions” of the South Caucasus are going to be changed and “re-adjusted” very soon. The trans-regional military deal between Armenia and India has numerous “spillover” geopolitical and geostrategic “repercussions” for the region and beyond.
The new military partnership between two “hegemonic countries” is a wake-up call for Azerbaijan, Türkiye, and even Pakistan to have a trilateral security dialogue.
The Indian Pinaka missile launcher is the first-ever indigenously developed military equipment to be sold to a foreign nation. Additionally, it is expected that the Armenia-India deal will have a significant geopolitical impact on Armenia, Azerbaijan, and India and its neighbors as well since it will directly involve India in the struggle against Azerbaijan, which has close ties with Türkiye and Pakistan.
Right from the beginning, the government of Pakistan took a “principled stance” and did not “recognize” Armenia because of its “fascist” conduct and illegal occupation of the Karabakh region. Both countries have been supporting each other on the issues of Kashmir and Karabakh on different regional as well as international forums.
Three brothers Military exercise:
Moreover, Pakistan rigorously participated in the “Three Brothers Joint Military Drill” in 2021 which further strengthened the scope of bilateral and trilateral military cooperation among the three brothers.
The same is the case with Türkiye which has been “nurturing” Azerbaijan since its independence through moral, political, economic, and military means.
The Second Karabakh War:
During 44 days of the patriotic war, Ankara vastly increased its military cooperation with Baku and supplied its armed Bayraktar TB2 drones that Azerbaijan used to devastating effect against Armenian ground forces. Moreover, the Turkish and Azerbaijani air forces launched the “TurAz Qartalı 2022” & “TurAz Eagle 2022” joint flight-tactical exercises.
According to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry “the study of interaction and combat interoperability, as well as the carrying out of search-and-rescue measures will be fulfilled during the exercises”.
Turkish defense industry representatives revealed their future plans to use joint production of cutting-edge military equipment. Turkish Defence Industry Minister Ismail Demir said relevant negotiations were underway with the Azerbaijani authorities to team up for the production of aircraft.
Byraktar and AKINCI:
Selcuk Bayraktar, CEO of the Turkish Baykar Technology Company, which produces Bayraktar and AKINCI combat drones, also confirmed the interest in developing and manufacturing cutting-edge aerial devices in Azerbaijan.
Interestingly, the Minister of Defense Industry termed the development of cooperation with Türkiye, Israel, and Pakistan essential and priorities of the Military Industrial Complex of Azerbaijan which has great geostrategic significance.
Azerbaijan’s relations with Türkiye have now entered a “new phase” following the signing of the “Shusha Declaration” in the Azerbaijani city of Shusha on June 15, 2021. The Shusha Declaration addresses coordinated and joint Turkish-Azerbaijani activities in the event of a threat or aggression by a third state or states against the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability of the internationally recognized borders, or security of each country.
Pakistan, Türkiye, and Azerbaijan also signed the “Baku Declaration” which emphasized the need to strengthen cooperation among the three countries, based on cultural and historical ties, mutual respect, and confidence. It also emphasized Türkiye, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan’s roles in building peace, stability, and development in their regions.
To conclude, Azerbaijan, Türkiye and Pakistan should further strengthen their “security cooperation”. Both countries showed “solidarity” and “supported” Azerbaijan during the 44-day war against the Armenian armed forces in 2020. Good thing is that Azerbaijan, Pakistan, and Türkiye maintain a “robust trilateral relationship” that is increasingly important to the security, economic, and diplomatic interests of all three countries.
The “war theater” of the South Caucasus has now become more complex and complicated as India elected to become more pronounced in its support of Armenia while keeping its “principled position” on the Karabakh issue. After a new round of border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan on September 13-14 2022, India’s foreign ministry, referring to Azerbaijan, called upon the aggressor side to immediately cease hostilities.
Now military deal between India and Armenia has worsened the geostrategic situation in the region.
The policy maker especially military strategists of Pakistan should also forge a comprehensive security policy in the region and try to further strengthen military cooperation with Azerbaijan in the days to come.
It is high time that the trilateral security partners should strengthen their cooperation in drones, tanks, anti-missile systems, ammunitions, and electronic warfare.
Moreover, trilateral cooperation in the latest radar and stealth systems should be also included in the formation of military cooperation among the three countries.
This Article is written by Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan.
Executive Director: The Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS), Islamabad
Regional Expert: Azerbaijan & South Caucasus
The views expressed in this article are the authors’ views and do not reflect the views of the youth diplomacy forum.