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Kazakhstan Denies Arms Export to Armenia Amidst Growing Geopolitical Shifts in the Region

By Vusala Abbasova November 26, 2023

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The statement came amid Armenia’s Defense Minister Suren Papikyan expressing interest in forging new military partnerships.

Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Defense has refuted recent reports circulating on social media and news portals, suggesting that the country exported arms to Armenia.

In a statement quoted by Zerkalo.az, the ministry clarified, “The information disseminated about the alleged deliveries of Kazakh weapons to the Republic of Armenia does not correspond to reality.”

The ministry emphasized that the country imposed an arms embargo in 2022, prohibiting the export of weapons and military equipment. This embargo contradicts the claims of a prospective arms deal with Armenia, leading the ministry to urge citizens and the media not to lend credence to the rumors and to rely only on official sources of information.

The statement came amid Armenia’s Defense Minister Suren Papikyan expressing interest in forging new military partnerships. Papikyan allegedly identified Kazakhstan as a potential supplier of military equipment, disclosing plans to acquire ‘TOS-A’ multiple rocket launch systems from the Central Asian nation.

According to media reports, an agreement was signed for the transfer of Smerch, Solntsepek, and Naiza MLRS systems, as well as the Semser self-propelled artillery unit (SPG), from Kazakhstan to the Armenian armed forces. Papikyan allegedly expressed optimism that equipment from Kazakhstan would prove to be more effective and reliable in challenging situations compared to Russian technology.

The reports occurred at a time when the political landscape in the region is shifting. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s recent decision to skip the summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Belarus signaled a potential rift with Russia and a decrease in Kremlin influence.

Armenia is a member of CSTO along with Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and under the organization’s charter, an intervention into the territory of a member state might activate collective assistance. Pashinyan had expressed dissatisfaction with Russia’s response during the 2020 war with Azerbaijan, accusing Moscow of failing to fulfill its obligations to ensure Armenia’s security. Russia had repeatedly stated that Moscow would not intervene or offer Yerevan military support as the clashes were not within Armenian territory.

The Armenian government’s shifting stance towards Russia has drawn criticism from Moscow, with Russia’s Foreign Ministry accusing Armenia of seeking closer ties with the West. Russian political scientist Sergei Markov noted that while Russia had supplied weapons to Armenia free of charge for many years, Yerevan’s anti-Russian position and purchases from other countries had strained the relationship. France, in response to this geopolitical shift, approved the provision of military equipment to Armenia, further complicating the regional dynamics.