India has signed a deal with Armenia to supply weapons worth Rs 2000 crore to the country at a time when it is engaged in a military conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Escalation of decades-old conflict has led to renewed tensions between the two south Caucasus countries, fueling fears of a full-fledged war.
India has signed a number of contracts with Armenia for the supply of ammunition, missiles, and rockets, the Economic Times has reported.
Interestingly, this includes the first-ever export of Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher systems by India. Designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Pinaka MBRLs are manufactured by private sector defense companies.
The Indian Army has inducted four regiments of Pinaka MBRLs and will receive six more over the next few years.
Armenia will also receive ammunition and anti-tank rockets from India.
India has exported weapons systems to Armenia before. In 2020, the country signed a deal with India for the purchase of four Swathi weapon locating radars. The deal was significant because Russian and Polish vendors were also in the race to sell radars to Armenia.
While the deals with Armenia are a major boost for India’s efforts to export weapons, the deal also has a geopolitical angle.
Armenia is fighting Azerbaijan, which has long supported Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir and has received weapons from Rawalpindi. Pakistan’s relations with Azerbaijan have been close over the last few decades, so much so that Islamabad refuses to recognize Armenia to this day.
Turkey, another country that has lent support to Pakistan’s territorial revisionism in Kashmir, supports Azerbaijan in the conflict.
Amid tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2021, India had sided with the former. Without naming Azerbaijan, New Delhi had told the country to “pull back forces immediately and cease any further provocation”.