Perspectives and opportunities for cooperation expansion
On September 4, the delegation headed by Armenian Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan left for Beijing on an official visit at the invitation of the Minister of Defense of the People’s Republic of China. On September 4, Vigen Sargsyan met with China’s Defence Minister Chang Wanquan. During the Armenian-Chinese negotiations, the sides agreed that more efforts should be made to deepen the Armenian-Chinese cooperation in the defense sphere, especially that there is a potential for it. Vigen Sargsyan thanked the Chinese side for providing Armenia’s defense sector with free assistance for many years. According to the Armenian Defence Minister, this is one of the testimonies of Armenian-Chinese friendly relations. At the end of the meeting a 10 million yuan aid agreement was signed, as it is mentioned in the statement of the Ministry of Defence.
Vigen Sargsyan’s official visit to Beijing was obviously for the discussion of prospects and opportunities for cooperation in the defence sector. It should be noted that Armenia is trying to diversify its defence sector. Military cooperation between Armenia and China is noticeable which has prospects for deepening. If we sum up the latest Armenian-Chinese negotiations, we must state that we have certain achievements in the relations with China, which is a giant of military industry, a pillar of global security: the Chinese side has provided free assistance to Armenia’s defence sector, another 10-million-yuan aid agreement has been signed in the latest Armenian-Chinese negotiations.
Story of a removed article
To what extent Vigen Sargsyan’s visit to China was important, we can judge from the article, which was titled “To China for weapons: Russian “Smerch” and “Iskander” not enough for Armenia anymore”, that was published and later removed from one of the most influential news services of Armenia’s strategic ally Russia, the RIA Novosti website.
The Russian propaganda machine, with clear and ironic accents in the article, made official Yerevan understand that Moscow was not pleased with the steps of the latter, and that Russia does not approve Armenia’s cooperation with other countries in the security sphere. The author argued that Russia had signed a number of agreements on arms supplies with Armenia, only two years ago, a loan agreement was signed to provide ammunition of 200 million dollars, Russia supplied the Armenian side with “Iskander”, “Smerch”, TOS-1A “Solntsepyok”, “IGLA-C” systems and a number of other weapons.
And after that, Armenia dares to negotiate with the Chinese or to talk about the possibility of buying weapons from China? Moreover, the military expert Alexander Khramchikhin went even further, saying that Armenia was not willing to buy weapons from China, but to “demonstratively blackmail” Russia, in order to reduce the cost of armament supplied by Russia. That is, official Yerevan, according to Khramchikhin, reminds Russia that it is not the only supplier of weapons in the world, so it can reduce the price of the weapon.
What is left for Armenia, if not foreign policy diversification?
Regular reminders about the 200 million dollars deal, reproaches by Moscow are already becoming unbearable. The Russian side reminds about this despite the fact that Moscow has a multi-billion “business” with Armenia’s adversary Azerbaijan, and by the way, the result of which was that in April last year, “spoiled” Aliyev considered that he could start a war. Moscow’s jealousy is probably conditioned by the fact that Russia-China alliance did not come true, which Russia was dreaming about not long time ago. As for Armenia, then what is left, if not striving to diversify in different areas, especially in the defence sector…
In some sense, it is quite natural that this or other prospective programs in Armenian-Chinese relations may irritate Russia and of course Azerbaijan too. We can only hope that the recent talks between Armenia and China will not have a negative impact on Armenia-Russia higher power relations. Only in that case we can consider the article in the Russian “RIA Novosti” to be a mistake, and admit that it only accidentally appeared on the influential Russian agency website. The fact that the article was removed from the site gives some hope that Moscow has realized that there is no need to aggravate the situation.