Tuesday, 18 September

Artsakh Defense Minister: "If they fire on a civilian area, the outcome will be very bad for them"

An interview with Artsakh Minister of Defense and Commander of the Artsakh Defense Army Levon Mnatsakanyan.

Azerbaijan has been amassing troops and equipment along several sections of the border. During this interview, you have been constantly looking at the screen. (The minister is watching videos taken all along the border separating Artsakh and Azerbaijan-EB) Do you think an attack is possible? Why has Azerbaijan been active of late?

The possibility of an attack is small right now but can’t be ruled out. They’re conducting exercises at the frontline. They’re testing equipment, practicing tactical maneuvers, and exercising the troops. All of it reminds us to be on our toes all the time.

There are Azerbaijani military exercises taking place along different sections of the border. According to the video footage, they don’t look too big.

These exercises haven’t stopped for the past month. Various military units are participating, involving a host of technical capabilities. They are focusing on the artillery divisions. Right now, their engineer corps is undergoing exercises. These actions lead us to think that some kind of operation is in the works. We’re also seeing tank and reserve troop exercises.

Azerbaijani media outlets have shown footage of recently acquired armaments and are repeating the old refrain of liberating Artsakh. We know that Azerbaijan has recently obtained the Polonaise multiple launch rocket system from Belarus and Bell 412 military helicopters. Does the Artsakh Defense Army have the resources to neutralize these weapons?

Yes, they show these weapons. In addition to the Polonaise, they’ve acquired a similar rocket from the Israelis, plus supplementary artillery installations and anti-tank equipment. We know what they have. Azerbaijan continues to manufacture drones, both for attack and surveillance. They’ve purchased more drones from Israel. Of course, we monitor all of this and take appropriate measures. We mostly focus our attention on their Israeli LORA missiles and the Polonaise rocket systems. Our air defense forces are working to counter them.

We’re also making changes to our tactics. We’re doing all we can to decrease the effectiveness of those weapons.

Is the Artsakh military acquiring new weapons?

Yes. I don’t want to list them, but we have new missiles and other resources we lacked in the past. We increased the number of our weapons. We’ve acquired new surveillance equipment that works in all types of weather.

So, you can neutralize their missiles?

Yes. Our air defense units can bring them down.

You said that Azerbaijan is employing drones, both day and night, way behind our lines. Can the Artsakh Defense Army do the same behind their lines?

We’ve never stopped employing drones, whether along the border or deep behind the frontline. In no way are we lagging behind them in terms of technical capability.

Do you have new programs to improve the socio-economic issues facing the officer corps?

Sure we have. All are focused on these issues. Take the housing problem. We’re initiating a mortgage financing program. It’s now being reviewed. Our hope is that it will alleviate the housing issue. Rest assured that those officers approaching retirement will not be neglected. If they can’t get an apartment through this program, we’ll take other measures to get them housing.  

You’re basically saying that a surprise attack is out of the question. How far in advance will you know about any such operation?

There will be no surprise attack since we’re constantly monitoring Azerbaijani military movements.  But we must consider that the enemy is equipped with modern military resources. This means that, unlike in the past, we now have hours and not days to surmise what their intentions are.

We take this factor into account when we conduct all our preparatory and preventative measures. I’m certain that our army, given these new operational conditions, will carry out its obligations with honor.

What if Azerbaijan strikes civilian targets?

If they fire on a civilian area, the outcome will be very bad for them. We’ve warned Azerbaijan about this on several occasions.

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Comments (3)
1. Hagop03:12 - 27 June, 2018
I was extremely disappointed in Armenia's previous government, and since the change in government, it has been clear that the right thing took place in Armenia. The Armenian leadership needs to become very aggressive, both in Armenia and Artsakh, and stop all these bullshit excuses like they did in the past. As an example: Azerbaijan is firing at villages in Armenia - not Artsakh - the country that it is not technically at war with. Thus this means that Azerbaijan is actually committing acts of war against Armenia proper. Up until now, what was the answer? In the previous government, the response was impotent and not the reaction of a sovereign nation, or for that matter, even one that cares about itself. A nation firing at and in some cases killing the citizens of its neighbor? Azerbaijan should have been taught a nasty lesson, and each time worse than the last if Armenia had any kind of real government. Armenia is not the one that needs to be "afraid to start a war". It is Azerbaijan that is in that state, and the Armenian leadership is not using its advantage. Armenia not having oil, and thus not having foreign governments and companies invested there, is not under any obligation to ensure peace. Yet, those terrorists in Baku with all their foreign investments are the ones acting aggressively, and Armenia sits back and claims it wants peace!??? Something is extremely wrong here. If you in Armenia are not making Azerbaijan BEG for peace, then you don't deserve it yourselves. In the meantime, I will not be moving to Armenia from the diaspora any time soon, although I want to, because I don't have any confidence in Armenia's leadership until now and the direction they were taking the nation. But with the new changes, I will wait and see how the new government reacts with new aggression from Azerbaijan. Now this is my problem with Armenia. But for Artsakh leadership, my question is a different one. By the terrorist acts of Azerbaijan in April 2016, Artsakh lost 100 Armenians, most of them valuable soldiers defending the homeland, in addition losing some valuable land. We know Azerbaijan caused it and not Artsakh. SO WHAT IS THE CONSEQUENCE FOR AZERBAIJAN? If the answer is 'nothing because they lost more men' (or some variation of it), then I also question whether Artsakh has the ability to be its own state. Or are you going to say that Paron Serjhik stopped you from reacting as a military should? In that case, you should give up on wasting time trying to be a government, and just hold an election to unite with Armenia.
2. Es13:47 - 29 June, 2018
Hagop, my (very young, I presume) friend, before going ful metal jacket and starting a war in a country far away, maybye have some decency to at least do it in Armenian, would you?!
3. Hagop02:20 - 30 June, 2018
Your rhetoric is exactly why Armenia's leadership proved to be a joke in April 2016. Where is it that I "called for war far away"? What I call for is for a nation's military, which exists and purports to be the protector of the nation, to start acting like it. And let the other side worry about "starting a war". Instead, Armenia has been timid in the face of terrorism over some bullshit ideal of a "pragmatic" approach. That works in a place like mainland Europe, not a neighborhood where Armenia's lands are under occupation by terrorists, and who are working to see our nation destroyed.
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