Why is India "meddling" in Armenia?

05.11.23 23:40

Against the backdrop of a sharp deterioration in relations between Armenia and its former "main ally" Russia, there has been a rapid rapprochement between Armenia and India, especially in the military field. This rapprochement is so rapid that it is already displeasing Russia, which also wants India as an "ally" and has long cooperated with it in the arms trade.


Aram Sargsyan, leader of the Respublika party, has claimed that Russia has refused to supply Armenia with arms purchased from India, while Iran has already delivered most of the Indian weapons in transit. In addition, Yerevan accuses Russia of being bogged down in the war in Ukraine and desperately in need of arms itself, but not only has it failed to deliver the Russian arms it has already paid for to Armenia, it has also failed to return the money. According to various sources, the amount is between 400 and 600 million dollars.


Against this background, the Indian military's views on cooperation with Armenia are interesting. Retired Indian Major General Ashok Kumar recently wrote that India could set up the so-called Indian Army Training Team (IATT) in Armenia, which would be deployed alongside units of the Armenian armed forces: "The geopolitical landscape of the world is changing quite rapidly. First there was the war between Russia and Ukraine, and now the war between Hamas and Israel.


US-China relations are also escalating over issues in the Indo-Pacific, the South China Sea and Taiwan.


In the midst of all this, the major conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, affecting 100,000 Armenians, has been overshadowed, despite the fact that almost the entire Armenian population has been displaced.


In the aftermath of Azerbaijan's military operation to seize the Armenian enclave (Nagorno-Karabakh), it is vital for Armenia to reassess its strengths and weaknesses. This will help it identify areas for reform. It would not be a bad idea for Armenia to seek India's help in training the armed forces to improve their combat capabilities.


India could set up an Indian Army Training Team (IATT) in Armenia, which would be co-located with units of the Armenian armed forces. The IATT is appropriate for Armenia for a number of reasons:


Armenia faces threats from two directions: from Nakhichevan in the west and from Nagorno-Karabakh in the east. Armenia needs to be prepared and able to fight a "two-front war". India could best help Armenia in this context, as India fought and won a two-front war in 1971 and is now facing a similar threat on two fronts - from China and Pakistan. Moreover, India has a track record of successfully establishing IATT in other countries. In the context of the war with Azerbaijan, India exported the Pinaka missile system to Armenia.  This shows the importance India attaches to Armenia in the international security system," writes Ashok Kumar.


Major General Ashok Kumar was involved in the last major conflict, the 1999 Kargil war between India and Pakistan. As for Ashok Kumar's statement that allegedly "India was fighting a war on two fronts", he was referring to the Indian-inspired separatist movement in East Pakistan, where India sided with the separatists and started a one-country war with Pakistan in 1971. Pakistan had no direct land connection with its eastern part, which led to the effective victory of India and the separatists it supported, and the proclamation of the 'independent' state of Bangladesh, which is in fact a vassal of India.


The people of Bangladesh themselves have not benefited from separatism. Bangladesh is now one of the poorest states in Asia, with huge overpopulation and environmental problems, and a standard of living far below that of Pakistan. In addition, millions of Muslim refugees, known as 'Biharis', from other parts of India who migrated to East Pakistan in 1947 and later to escape religious persecution, are in limbo. The separatists who came to power in Bangladesh, espousing aggressive Bengali nationalism, stripped these people of all rights and denied most of them Bangladeshi citizenship. The Biharis cannot return to their homes in India because of extreme Islamophobia and India's unwillingness to repatriate the refugees.


Thus, having 'made happy' the Muslims of East Pakistan by supporting separatism, India now wants to 'make happy' the Hayes and the unscathed 'Artsakh' separatists by supporting military revanchism among them. In reality, this can lead to an even greater military disaster for Armenia in a new war.


It is necessary to remind the Hayas hoping for India that, unlike Russia, India is far away and will not send its troops to help and act as "peacekeepers". There is no special Khai diaspora in India. If anything happens, India will not lift a finger to save Armenia, no matter how much the Khai nationalists scream about the threat of 'genocide'.


But now, for India itself, having Armenia as a "proxy" and a place for a military base is a serious bid to claim to be a "world power". In fact, this could become India's first "military base at a considerable distance from the Indian subcontinent". In essence, Armenia becomes a "pawn" that can be sacrificed or exchanged at any time in the course of agreements for its own interests, closer to India's geographical borders.



Grigol Giorgadze

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