Ukraine Arms Both Azerbaijan and Armenia?
30 August, 2012
Ukraine Arms Both Azerbaijan and Armenia?


It matters to Georgia how its neighbors are armed

An international scandal that irritated the official Ukraine, Yerevan and Baku broke after the appearance of the scanned classified document in the Internet.

The outrage was triggered by the letter dated 15 November, 2011 and signed by Major General Sergey Gmiz, Head of General Intelligence Division of Ukrainian Defense Ministry, which informs the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich about the selling of arms by UkrSpetsEksport to Armenia under the contract concluded on 17 September, 2011.


It turns out that Armenia has already reimbursed half of the contract sum and expects 12 Smerch type reactive fire systems and 50 Igla type mobile missile units.

In his letter, the Ukrainian general points to the risk that Azerbaijan may accidentally learn about the Ukrainian-Armenian arms deal. In case of such information leak, it would jeopardize Azeri-Ukrainian military-technical and energy cooperation.

To avoid this undesirable scenario, Major General Sergey Gmiz proposes to the President to have all the arms going to Armenia re-labeled and sent to Armenia from Moldova, rather than Ukraine. Moreover, if this alternative fails, then Gmiz suggests creating an impression that the weapons come from military stocks of Lydia robbed by rebels.

The content of this secret letter is so sensational that one may think of a foul play, especially, when both Ukrainian and Armenian official structures categorically denied the existence of such an arms deal.

So far the official Baku remains silent and waits for the actual check of the story. If it gets ascertained that the Smerch and Igla arms deal between Ukraine and Armenia does exist, Baku-Kiev military-technical cooperation would certainly suffer a great deal, given that Azerbaijan is one of the major buyers of Ukrainian armaments.

Although Ukraine has all the legal rights to sell weapons to Armenia, simultaneous serving of military needs of two belligerent countries is a questionable practice ethically considering that these two sides may attack each other anytime.

It’s not ruled out that the letter is a disinformation trick aimed at spoiling Ukrainian-Azeri military-technical and possibly even political collaboration. This sort of development benefits Moscow because Russian Government is not happy with Azeri purchases of military planes and tanks from Ukraine. It’s not just about enmity of Azerbaijan with Armenia, the Russia’s strategic partner in the South Caucasus. The bosses in Kremlin hate to have Ukraine as its competitor in arms export with Azerbaijan because it turns out that Russia too has been an Azeri arms dealer selling to the latter expensive weaponry such as C-300 ÏÌÓ-2 ÔÀÂÎÐÈÒ missile systems and ÌÈ-35Ì military helicopters.

Hence, there is definitely a room for suspicion that it is Russian special services which concocted the above said notorious letter and “leaked” it to the Internet to drive a wedge in Baku-Kiev relations.

On the other hand, there is also a counter-evidence of the likelihood that the Ukraine-Armenia arms deals mentioned in the letter did take place after all. In another arms trade scandal that broke earlier in October 2011, a transportation plane from Libya landed in Moldova, got loaded with missile complexes and shells and headed for Armenia. Baku learnt about the operation and expressed a categorical protest to Moldova. The latter had to apologize.

Azeri information sources disseminated the letter dated 26 August 2011, which stated that a private Armenian company purchased 800 thousand bullets of 12.7mm caliber and 200 thousand rounds of bullets from Ukrainian state company UkrainMash for USD 298 thousand. By contract, the Ukrainian side was supposed to deliver these goods to the airport of Albanian capital Tirana from where the Armenian company was going to transport and sell the arms to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It’s hard to say why the UAE would need Soviet standard 12.7x108 caliber bullets when its armed forces use bullets of NATO caliber. It’s more likely that actually the Armenian company conceived a roundabout delivery of the goods to Armenia.

Arms import and export is always riddled with international scandals. Yet, for the Georgian side it should be more interesting to know how its neighbors - Azerbaijan and Armenia - are armed. The main route of arms delivery for both countries is via the land and air space of Georgia. It was exactly in this way that the heavy weaponry purchased in Ukraine arrived in Azerbaijan by railway. Namely, 2Ñ1 ÃÂÎÇÄÈÊÀ type mobile artillery installations and ÁÒÐ-70 type armored vehicles bought by Baku entered Georgian Poti port by a Ukrainian ferry, got unloaded on railway platforms and were further transported across Georgia and unloaded at the Georgian-Azeri border.

Some time earlier Yerevan too tried to use Poti port for importing arms purchased abroad but it is unknown if it managed to do it. But it is well known that Armenian military-transportation planes regularly roam the Georgian air space carrying ammunition, armored vehicles and missile installations not only from Russia but perhaps also from Ukraine.

Given the good neighborly relations, official Tbilisi cannot refuse either Baku or Yerevan to use the Georgian territory for the transit of foreign-made arms. On the other hand, both Armenian and Azeri armies already have rapid deployment missile complexes, long-range reactive fire installations and modern missile systems which significantly alter a military-political balance in the South Caucasus to the detriment of Georgia.

Finally, one more argument in support of the possible purchase of Ukrainian Smerchs by Armenia in 2011 is the fact that earlier in the same years the military parade featured new Azeri Smerchs also obtained from Ukraine. It must have been natural for the Armenian side to react to it with the desire to get similar armament… from Ukraine.


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