Armenia blamed Russian weapons for its defeat in Nagorno-Karabakh

This post was published in Vzglyad. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


MOSCOW, (BM) – The Armenian society continues to look for those responsible for the defeat in the war in Karabakh. The reasons are now offering to consider political mistakes and military miscalculations on the battlefield, and the wrong strategy when purchasing weapons. Russian air defense and electronic warfare systems, as well as new fighters, were criticized. Why did the Armenian air defense lose the air battle?

During the acute phase of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh this fall, Turkish and Israeli-made drones became the main striking force of the Azerbaijani army. They suppressed the firepower of the Armenians, inflicting sensitive damage on their defenses. At the same time, the Armenian air defense was unable to neutralize them. As a result, the sky over Karabakh belonged to Azerbaijani UAVs.

When the smoke cleared after the fighting, Armenia calls to abandon the further use and purchase of Russian electronic warfare [EW] and air defense systems. The reason is that these systems allegedly performed poorly in the fight against drones. There are proposals to consider options for purchasing military equipment from other manufacturers, such as German ones.

Also, the practicality of the recent purchase of Russian Su-30SM fighters is being questioned. These machines never made a single sortie during the war. Critics believe that a lot of money spent on them could have been used more profitably, including the defense of Nagorno-Karabakh.

These conversations began to multiply in Armenia almost immediately after the end of the war and Russian peacekeepers into Karabakh. And this is not just ordinary kitchen gossip. This opinion is also expressing by retired Armenian military men with big stars. In other words, they prefer to shift the responsibility for defeat in the war onto Russian weapons or to Pashinyan. But not for a systemic crisis of Armenian statehood, provoked by him, but for the purchase of “the wrong weapon.”

To some extent, we can understand such conversations; Armenia is going through a huge shock. Accordingly, talk about the “ineffectiveness” of the Russian weapons supplied to Yerevan is not so much a military issue as a psychological one. It is challenging for the Armenian army leaders to publicly repent of defeat, but it is elementary to spread speculation that Russian weapons were ineffective.

Firstly, there are no reliable statistics on the results of hostilities during the second Karabakh war. Specifically, about the work of air defense and electronic warfare, statistics are very complex and understandable only to professionals [frequencies, jamming density, power spectral density, results of setting, and many other indicators of a particular property]. In a structured and systematic form, such data usually appear about six months after the hostilities in the form of bound brochures labeled “for official use.” When they appear, then the experts will be able to discuss them.

So far, we can state that the Armenian air defense turned out to be extremely ineffective against Azerbaijan’s UAVs. But why exactly is it a separate question? The answer to this question is now being sought not only in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, or Turkey – all countries that are somewhat decent in military terms are already studying and will study the second Karabakh experience war attentively.

Secondly, without cover, electronic warfare systems do not work [at least they should not]. The same goes for radar stations [radars]. These systems must be provided with their air defense; otherwise, they turn into a target for the corresponding weapons. The Armenian armed forces did not have such protection, and the Armenian military command is exclusively to blame for this.

Thirdly, the Armenian air defense calculations showed inadequate tactical training, and there is a lot of evidence of this. For example – Armenians dug a trench into which the “Wasp” air defense system was driven and from above covered with twigs. This wheeled vehicle could independently get out of there only with the help of a tractor. The principle “fire – change position”, which cadets of air defense schools are taught in their first year, was ignored. The losses of Armenian air defense systems from Azerbaijani UAVs in such positions reached enormous proportions in the first two weeks of the fighting.

And finally, there were no Russian military advisers or specialists in Armenia who could maintain such high-tech equipment or help the Armenian crews and crews. No one. The volume of this kind of military-technical cooperation between Russia and Armenia under Pashinyan sharply decreased. Still, in a critical situation, it was possible to step on the throat of one’s political course. But they were offered.

They acted in a fundamentally different way in Azerbaijan. It is clear that initially, there were no specialists in servicing such several unmanned vehicles in the Azerbaijani army and its electronic warfare and air defense systems. And preparations for the war went on at an accelerated pace. Therefore, they did not hesitate to invite advisers from abroad.

In the Azerbaijani army, many distanced themselves from the Turks, but Turkish specialists served Turkish equipment. And the national pride of the Azerbaijani people did not suffer from this. On the contrary, the Azerbaijanis replenished it with a resounding military victory and a new national holiday. Now, by the decree of President Ilham Aliyev, November 10 [the end of the fighting of the second Karabakh war] is the day of victory.

A similar story has developed around the Su-30SM. When Armenia bought them from Russia a year ago, Defense Minister David Tonoyan made pompous speeches that the Armenian Air Force could “create chaos behind enemy lines” and strike “not only at point B but also at C, D, E.” Under the Su-30SM, the Tor air defense system was also bought, which perfectly interacted with Syria. But the Torahs remained around Yerevan, and the SU-30SM from the base in Gyumri did not even take off.

Some experts began to explain this by the actions of the Azerbaijani air defense, but, according to other sources, the Armenian leadership was afraid of even greater intervention by Turkey and decided not to use heavy fighters because of the alleged “danger” of a retaliatory strike by the Turks on Gyumri. They failed to convince them that Turkey will not strike at Armenia. And the quality of Russian weapons has nothing to do with it.

The story with the purchase of the Su-30SM concerns rather the very strategy of developing Armenia’s armed forces, under which the purchase of specific types of weapons, experts said. First, they create a process and only then saturate it with specifics. But Pashinyan’s government took a path that can be roughly described as “How cool!” And therefore, of the entire range of possible purchases of weapons in Russia, it stopped at the Su-30SM. Pashinyan even promised to increase the number of these vehicles to 12 units [a whole squadron]. Armenia had a flawed idea of ​​what kind of enemy it would face and what types of weapons it would need.

At that time, Azerbaijan was deliberately preparing for a specific, pre-developed operation with Turkish specialists’ involvement. In Baku [or Ankara], the Armenian defense’s weak points were identified, and the entire range of weapons was built for this task.

It remains to add the obvious. Such gossip and “confidential conversations” of some Armenian military only work for Azerbaijani and Turkish propaganda, creating additional reasons for dissatisfaction in Moscow with Yerevan’s actions.


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