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The Armenian Defense Ministry has not ruled out the use of Iskander missile complexes against Azerbaijan during the clashes in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, as the two countries’ conflict flared up over the past few days.
“When they find it necessary when the logic of the relevant hostilities corresponds to the need to use this weapon, then they will definitely use it,” Artsrun Hovhannisyan, a representative of the Armenian Defense Ministry, said on September 28 during a briefing, when asked in which case the Armenian side will use the Iskander ballistic missiles and the SU 30SM fighter planes.
In addition, Armenia’s Ambassador to Russia Vardan Toghanyan told the Russian’s RIA Novosti that “the military leadership has repeatedly stated that if the sword of Damocles in the form of Turkish F-16s hangs over the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, all measures will be taken, including the use of Iskander. That is, the Armenian armed forces will have to use all military arsenal”.
In a response to the possible use of the Iskander missile complexes by Armenia, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said that “unfortunately, anything can be expected from Armenia. It is hard for me to comment from the military point of view, what response there would be. I am sure that the Azerbaijani forces have an adequate response“.
In June 2019, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced during a press conference following the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that “the journalist asked me if I don’t have the desire to purchase a second Iskander missile, and I said Armenia has a sufficient amount of Iskander missiles”.
Armenia firstly demonstrated Iskander missile systems while it marked the 25th independence anniversary during a military parade held in the capital Yerevan in September 2016. Armenia has 25 units of them. Two managers of the Russian military-industrial complex Rosoboronexport confirmed that four 9K720 Iskander systems were delivered to Armenia under the agreement with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the intergovernmental military alliance led by Russia.
In February 2017, the Armenian defense minister announced that the Iskander missiles stationed in Armenia and shown at the military parade in September 2016 were owned and operated by the Armed Forces of Armenia.
The 9K720 Iskander is a mobile surface-to-surface, short-range ballistic missile system produced and deployed by the Russian Federation. It has a firing range of up to 500 kilometers and is known for its precision.
Armenia has taken delivery of a lot of military equipment from Russia including two S-300PS/SA-10C air defense missile systems, 10 armored vehicles Tigr, 400 MANPADS Igla-S/SA-24; 25 Iskander ballistic missile; 6 BM-30 9A52 Smerch MLRS 300mm Multiple Launch Rocket System, 200 Verba SA-25, and the undisclosed number of anti-tank missiles 9M133 Kornet/AT-14, since 2010, according to the report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published in 2018.
On the second day of the heavy fighting that erupted in the separatist Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on September 27, Yerevan and Baku continue the exchange of fierce fire with both sides blaming each other of targeting civilians and civilian targets.
On September 28, authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh, who are backed by Armenia, said 58 of their soldiers had been totally killed. They had reported 16 fatalities and more than 100 people wounded a day earlier.
Azerbaijan said two Azeri civilians were killed on Monday, following the deaths of five people from the same family died on September 27, adding that 30 civilians were wounded.
The current stage of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been lasting for three decades. Following the Karabakh war of 1992-1994, Armenia seized Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts from Azerbaijan, and about 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory has been under occupation and controlled by the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Armenian still ignores four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions that demand the complete, unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.