By Haider Abbas
Armenia is a nation of about 28 lakh people but India is into its aggressive foreign policy, and has gone ahead to arm Armenia, against its arch-rival Azerbaijan. This has not gone well with Azerbaijan, as its President Ilham Aliyev, in an interview has termed the India move as an ‘unfriendly step’. It has been reported by FirstPost 1 on January 13, that Ilham Aliyev had said that, ‘Unfortunately, India is now playing a role among them. We consider this an unfriendly step. because these weapons, especially offensive weapons have a target, and it is Azerbaijan.” Armenia and Azerbaijan had gone to war in 2020 which ended after Russia had supervised a ceasefire.
The same report further elaborated that, ‘India in September 2022 (had) signed contracts with Armenia to export weapons worth over Rs 2,000 crores. According to an Economic Times report the order included the indigenous Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers that are already in service with the Indian Army. But this is not the first time India will be exporting weapons to Armenia. In 2020, India had a deal with Armenia to supply four Swathi radars to the nation for an estimated Rs 350 crore.’
The Azerbaijan President has also made it clear, as per Aze.Media 2 on January 10, that “Whatever weapons Armenia may be given, they will not help it. “If we see that we are facing a serious threat, we will deal with that threat immediately. Regardless of where that threat arises, within our territory or outside our borders. “Whatever weapons Armenia may be given, they will not help it, and I have repeatedly told this to the Armenian side. I told them, don’t waste your money. Because, first of all, it will not help, and secondly, it may create some illusion among the revanchist forces in your country. It might create the illusion that you can get revenge. You cannot!” He further elaborated, “If we see that we are facing a serious threat, we will deal with that threat immediately. Regardless of where that threat arises, within our territory or outside our borders. It is our legitimate right to do so. There are such attempts, and we see and know which countries are preparing to give weapons to Armenia. Unfortunately, India is now among them. We consider this an unfriendly move. Because these weapons—offensive weapons!—have only one target, and that is Azerbaijan. ”
Never perhaps in any recent times a head of the state has retorted to India, but India also has stakes, with particular reference to Turkey which has over the years been ‘supportive’ of Kashmir, which obviously has irked India. Turkey has been supplying weapons and arms to Azerbaijan against Armenia and Pakistan also has been in-steps with its support to Azerbaijan. Both Pakistan and Turkey have been almost in consonance over Kashmir too. Therefore, India has legitimate reasons to gravitate towards Armenia which has civilizational issues with Turkey. This is the prime reason that India has started to galvanize Armenia against its foes. It may be mentioned here Armenia is a Christian nation that lays in-between Azerbaijan and Turkey, and ironically, Pakistan has not as yet acceded to even recognizing Armenia as a nation. The geo-politics of religion is what stems it all.
Armenia on its side, has also thus, thrown its weight for India in its support for India’s stand on Kashmir. This has not gone well with Turkey and Pakistan alike, and now Azerbaijan has also joined the bandwagon against India. What however is interesting is that Armenia’s open support to India had come much before it had a war with Azerbaijan (2021) , as Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan had defended fully the Indian position on Jammu and Kashmir, informed WionNews 3 on September 26, 2019. Armenia had gone to the extent to announce that it would support any ‘moves-taken’ by India inside the Pakistan side of Kashmir too. The BJP led NDA government of Narendra Modi had annulled the Article 370 of Constitution of India which gave Special Powers to JK & Ladakh on August 5, 2019.
The ‘radars and missiles’ supplied by India are now to be trained against Azerbaijan as the flames of dispute over Nagorno-Karabagh between Armenia and Azerbaijan have not doused yet, despite the proclamation of the ceasefire brokered by Russia. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan were once a part of the erstwhile Soviet-Union and Armenia and Russia have a Collective-Security-Treaty Organization ( CSTO), on the lines of NATO between them, but Russia has been loathsome of Armenia to have broken-the-talks with Azerbaijan, and that Armenia did not let peace be established between the two. This is for the sake that Armenia has started to pull-towards US-the worst bête noir of Russia. This is also a signal that if in future there is any skirmish between Armenia and Azerbaijan, then Russia, despite being the big-brother in the region, is to draw a neutral line. Hence, Indian chain of supply lines of weapons is now, to become more handy for Armenia. Needless, to emphasize that India is in a ‘lot-of-influence’ from US, which are due to India’s perennial concerns over China which has been eyeing for regions inside the Himalayas.
India has played a masterstroke here to placate US through Armenia as Russia now stands handicapped due to the war with Ukraine, and Europe too, has been entangled by the same war. US has supplied billions of dollars to Ukraine. Is a new war breaks in immediate neighborhood of Russia i.e. between Armenia and Azerbaijan, it will obviously irk Russia ‘all-the-more’ this time, as Russia-Ukraine war is not finished yet.
The world today stands on a brink of wars, between China and India, Iran and Israel, China and US over Taiwan or between South and North Korea. Will there be an outbreak of a new war after the Russia-Ukraine war ends? Or later to it, is what is to be seen? However, India by reaching to Armenia in its ‘hour-of-need’, may have gone very well with US but did it go well in the ‘same vein’ with Russia too? Is also which is yet to come out.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and writes on international politics.