DND Special Report
India is caught red-handed by Azerbaijan while secretly delivering sensitive military cargo to Armenia via Iran as Tehran is partnering with New Delhi to equip Yerevan with the latest military hardware.
Azerbaijani intelligence network managed to film a convoy of secrete military cargo passing through the Norduz border checkpoint in Iran to Armenia.
Baku has again raised the issue with New Delhi as it did last October that India is pumping weapons and military equipment to Armenia secretly.
President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev had openly warned India to stop equipping Armenia with military weapons. After this warning, India slowed down selling weapons to Armenia openly but is continuing to transfer weapons to Armenia through Iran secretly.
There is no doubt that revengeful Armenia is raising its head again after getting Indian military support. Azerbaijan believes that the rapid armament of Armenia is creating new dangers in the region and exposing the military planning of Armenia for some new adventures. Azerbaijan has a valid question to ask if Armenia is really interested in peace with Azerbaijan, then why does it acquire weapons worth hundreds of millions of dollars?”
Does New Delhi understand that this could lead to the supply of ammunition and lethal weapons to Armenia, including the Pinaka MLRS and long-range guns, which poses a direct threat to peaceful Azerbaijani cities, even those located far from borderline territories? The 44-day war had shown that the Armenian army suffering a defeat on the battlefield is capable of shelling peaceful settlements, killing people sleeping in their homes…
Azerbaijan is justified in saying that India publicly speaks about international law, but openly supports the policy of inciting a military conflict and disrespect for the territorial integrity of countries in the South Caucasus. It also turns a blind eye to the fact that this runs counter to the principles of the Bandung Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement.
On July 26, 2023, the Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmat Hajiyev met with the Ambassador of India to the country Sridharan Madhusudhanan to get an explanation for this Indian move that would surely endanger the region.
According to the state-run News Agency, Azertac, during the meeting, Hikmat Hajiyev expressed his concerns over deepening military cooperation between Armenia and India and the dissemination of photos and videos in the media about transferring Indian-made weapon systems to Armenia through Iran in recent days.
Anybody who has knowledge of war politics can understand that India’s delivery of lethal weapons to Armenia amid ongoing negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia on a peace agreement leads to the militarization of Armenia and aggravation of the situation, and poses obstacles to the establishment of sustainable peace and security in the South Caucasus region that has just come out of the crisis of over 30 years.
India claims that it had a contract with Armenia for military weapon sales because Russia after entering into the Ukraine conflict stopped exporting weapons to Armenia. However, this claim is contrary to fact because India had been providing sensitive and lethal weapons to Armenia clandestinely well before even the Ukraine crisis started. Some Indian newspapers during the year 2020 boosted that India was providing some cheaper armored personnel vehicles free of cost to Armenia as a gesture of friendship because Pakistan was providing light weaponry to Azerbaijan. The authorities of Armenia did not deny such media reports but also indirectly confirmed the content of the reports.
What kind of weapons India is secretly or openly providing to Armenia?
The Economic Times wrote at the end of September of last year that Armenia and India signed a number of agreements on the supply of weapons. According to the article, the total value of the contracts is about USD 245 million: four Pinaka MLRSs and defense equipment. According to Indian media, the order also includes guided missiles. However, in October 2022, the Indian newspaper The Print added “Akash missile systems” to the list.
In November 2022, Armenia ordered 155 mm truck-mounted artillery worth about USD 160 million (75-100 units). The list continued expanding after Deputy Minister of Defense of Armenia Karen Brutyan visited India in February 2023. Details of weapons being provided by India to Armenia are as follows:
Pinaka rocket launcher system is mounted on the Tatra Colossus truck and consists of six stations, six reloading vehicles, a command vehicle, a fire suppression system, and radar. It can fire 12 missiles in 44 seconds, the range of the missile is 60 kilometers, and the barrel caliber is 214 mm. Another model of Pinaka is quite closer to rather copycat of the Russian “Smerch”.
Akash is a surface-to-air missile system. The systems are intended for small and medium distances of 3.5 to 20 kilometers. The system includes a fire-control panel, a Rajendra multi-purpose radar station, mobile launchers with three surface-to-air guided missiles each, as well as communication and maintenance vehicles.
MR-SAM surface-to-air missile system fire range of up to 75 kilometers.
The information available in Indian media suggests that TAPAS-BH-201 (Rustom-ll) combat drone which is a medium-altitude long-endurance drone will soon be provided to Armenia. The Rustom-ll uses Russian-made NPO Saturn 36MT turbo engines, 100 hp each. The maximum speed of the drone is 265 km/h and it can fly for 16-24 hours without recharging. The drones can carry up to 350 kg of ammunition.
The NAG ATGM (also called Prospina) is an Indian third-generation, all-weather, fire-and-forget, lock-on after-launch, anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) with an operation range of 500 meters to 20 km. It has a single-shot hit probability of 90 percent and can be launched from land and air. The strike range of the missile, when launched from a ground-based platform, is up to four kilometers, while the strike range, when launched from the air, reaches seven kilometers. The missile has a built-in Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) seeker system with integrated avionics that can disable heavy armor day and night.
Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) has a maximum range of 2.5 kilometers and is guided by an IIR system.
Why India is proactive to supply military weapons to Armenia?
Of course one of the reasons is to control the weapon market of the former Soviet Union where Russia has been the sole seller in the past and India with a mix of US-Russian technology is developing weapons that would later or sooner outclass Russian weapons in former Soviet states. However, the export or even free-of-cost provision of weapons to Armenia is not only for business. If not then why is it?
Armenia faced a historic defeat in a 44-day patriotic war in 2020 and the country became more politically and economically isolated even Chinese investments after the war bypassed Yerevan and concentrated on Baku. The Indian classical war philosophy is to make someone friend who is an enemy of enemies. Azerbaijan having strong economic ties with China and time-tested relations with Pakistan are enough to understand why does India choose Caucasian to strike Pakistan’s as well as Chinese strategic and economic interests?
Moreover, India calls the trilateral relationship of Pakistan- Türkiye, and Azerbaijan a “dangerous collaboration”. In September 2022, Pranab Dhal Samanra who is a writer that always speaks an unofficial version of Indian regional strategy wrote an article titled “India cannot ignore the dangerous adventures of the ‘three brothers’ in Armenia and elsewhere.” He wrote that “this axis” is cemented in the South Caucasus, it will move southward, and Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Pakistan will cooperate in other theaters, including Kashmir. He further wrote that Türkiye and Azerbaijan have always supported Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir, and in return, Pakistan has backed Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia. He was of the view that Baku was negotiating with Pakistan to purchase Chinese-origin JF-17 fighters. “It is probably in India’s interest that Armenia puts up a stand and not be trampled upon because of a power vacuum (in South Caucasus) caused by Russia’s preoccupation in Ukraine,” writes Samanra.
In an interview with the Armenian Weekly, Rananjay Anand, co-founder and president of the Indo-Armenian Friendship Society, mentioned that the recent arms supply to Armenia has many geopolitical implications in the South Caucasus region and beyond and this defense cooperation would certainly change the security equations in South Caucasus, wherein Russia has always been the dominant player so far. He further wrote that Russia had been the main weapon supplier to Armenia, but being preoccupied with Ukraine and this is the time that India could capture the Russian weapon export market. He argued that India must help Armenia to stay strong against “three brothers (Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Pakistan”).
India is surely aggravating the situation in the Caucasian region and planning another war against Azerbaijan and Indian Think Tanks and state-sponsored writers are openly saying that Azerbaijan is an Indian target because it helps Pakistan and Türkiye at all international forums. Therefore, it is the moral and strategic responsibility of Türkiye and Pakistan to cover the back of Azerbaijan and provide whatever is needed by one of the “three brothers” because it looks categorical that India and Armenia are waiting for the “right time” to strike Azerbaijan back in a revengeful mood and vindictive mode.