Sara Khojoyan, Bloomberg News
(Bloomberg) — Armenia launched Russian-made Iskander missiles into Azerbaijan during the fighting over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a top military official said a day after he resigned his post.
The short-range missile, which has been fired only rarely in combat, “was used during the war though I will not say where,” Colonel-General Movses Hakobyan told reporters Thursday in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, after he had stood down as head of the Defense Ministry’s military control service. Russia also delivered military supplies to Armenia during the fighting “as much as their conscience allowed,” he said.
His comments represent the first disclosure of Russian military aid to Armenian forces that suffered a devastating defeat to Azerbaijan after 44 days of war. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accepted a Russia-brokered truce last week after Azerbaijani troops recaptured four regions outside Nagorno-Karabakh that had been occupied for 26 years and took control of a strategic city inside the breakaway region.
Hakobyan, a former head of the Army General Staff in Armenia, also criticized shortcomings in military readiness, saying defense officials purchased Russian fighter jets without the necessary missiles, which meant they couldn’t be used in the war. The country also took delivery of obsolete air-defense missile systems, he said.
Armenia’s Prosecutor General’s office said in a Facebook post that it would investigate Hakobyan’s allegations. A Defense Ministry spokeswoman didn’t respond to phone calls seeking comment.
Azerbaijan reported Armenian missile strikes during the conflict on targets as far away as the Xizi district north of the capital, Baku, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the fighting.
The peace agreement requires Armenian forces to pull out of three remaining Azerbaijani regions by Dec. 1, with nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh to ensure security and keep open a narrow road corridor linking the unrecognized republic with Armenia.
The terms of the accord have sparked furious protests in Armenia and demands for Pashinyan to resign, including from the country’s president. While he’s accepted responsibility for the defeat, in which officials said at least 2,425 Armenian soldiers were killed, Pashinyan insists he’ll continue to lead the country.