Armenia has indeed purchased Su-30SM fighter jets from Russia without air-to-air missiles, said Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during a meeting with residents of the town of Ohanavan in the Aragatsotn Province, Sputnik Armenia reports.
He blamed the previous leadership of the country for such a decision. "Yes, we bought the plane, it was delivered in May, and yes, we did not have time to buy missiles before the war. Well, you'd buy aircraft so we could buy rockets. Why didn't the 26-year-old state have fighter aircraft, can someone explain it?" the Prime Minister said.
Pashinyan stressed that he fully assumes responsibility for the defeat in the armed conflict with Azerbaijan last fall.
In November 2020, Movses Hakobyan, the former chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces, announced that Yerevan had purchased fighter jets without ammunition from Moscow. He said that in 2016 he managed to dissuade the country's leadership from buying the planes, but they were later purchased anyway.
Hakobyan claimed that he personally told the prime minister before signing the treaty that it would be a "criminal step" because Russian law prohibits the sale of Su-30SM weapons to third countries, including missiles. However, according to the military, the authors of the contract between Moscow and Yerevan "did not read the Russian legislation."
In January 2019, Armenia signed a contract with Russia to supply four Su-30SM. A month later, the authorities of the republic announced that they intend to purchase eight more fighters.
In late February, Pashinyan said that during the armed conflict in Karabakh, Russian Iskander missile systems proved ineffective, did not explode "or exploded by only 10%." The first deputy head of the General Staff, Tiran Khachatryan, refuted the prime minister's statement and called it "not serious." After that, the general was fired.
Later, Yerevan said that Pashinyan had been incorrectly informed about the use of Iskanders during the Karabakh conflict. The dispute over armaments escalated into a direct confrontation between Pashinyan and the military.