Former Armenian Defense Minister Questions Pashinyan's Claim of "Fifth Column" During 2020 Karabakh War
Former Armenian Defense Minster Davit Tonoyan, testifying at today’s session of a parliamentary fact-finding committee investigating aspects of the 2020 Karabakh war, said he has no proof that a “fifth column” of subversives operated within the ranks of the Armenian armed forces, thus contributing to the Armenian military defeat.
Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan, during a March 14 press conference, claimed that such a fifth column engaged in disinformation and sabotage during the war, causing desertion within the Armenian military.
Tonoyan, who served as Armenia’s Defense Minister during the 2020 Karabakh war, said he awaits proof of such a fifth column.
The former defense minister said organizational deficiencies, fear and recruitment problems caused incidents of desertion.
"Fear is a natural thing, but to overcome fear, preparation is necessary based on organizational work. We worked in a very fixed period, which can be evaluated, but I have no information that this was being directed," Tonoyan said about the military desertions.
Tonoyan refuted rumors that Armenia stopped the mobilization of reservists during the war.
“How could such a thing have happened if the number of our armed forces had doubled. Do you understand what numbers we are talking about," said Tonoyan, confessing that the recruitment process was flawed.
Tonoyan said that while he was aware of Azerbaijan’s military build-up prior to the war, no one in the defense ministry knew when Baku would launch its offensive.
He confessed that while the defense ministry understood the risk of Turkey getting involved during the war, it failed to realize that Turkish military personnel could be airlifted directly close to the Karabakh military theater.
Tonoyan, who once boasted that Armenia would capture more Azerbaijani territory in any new war, was fired as defense minister immediately after the 2020 war. He was arrested in September 2021 as part of a criminal probe regarding the supply of defective ammunition to the country’s military and remains in detention.
Armenia’s opposition parliamentary factions have boycotted the work of the fact-finding committee whose mandate is soon to expire.