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France announces sale of defensive weapons to Armenia

October 24, 2023
France announces sale of defensive weapons to Armenia. AFP;/File
France announces sale of defensive weapons to Armenia. AFP;/File

PARIS: France announced on Monday the sale of defensive equipment to Armenia as Azerbaijan launched military drills with its ally Turkiye.

The deal was announced weeks after Baku seized Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian separatists and amid fears in Yerevan that Azerbaijan might now seek to target southern Armenia.

Speaking to reporters, French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said Armenia would buy three Ground Master 200 (GM200) radar systems from the French defence group Thales, without providing financial details.

The system, already used in Ukraine, is known for its “remarkable detection capabilities”, Lecornu said at a press conference alongside Armenian Defence Minister Suren Papikyan. The ministers also signed a letter of intent for Armenia´s purchase of air defence systems involving Thales and European missile maker MBDA, a spokeswoman for Lecornu told AFP.

Lecornu said the letter of intent involved the purchase of “Mistral-type” equipment, referring to a short-range air defence missile system. “Detection only makes sense if it is accompanied by intervention and interception modules for attacks coming from the sky,” Lecornu said.

“It is the Armenian ministry which is purchasing these weapons and which will be subject to export licences,” he added. He insisted that the weapons were defensive in nature.

“It is a weapon system which, by its very nature, can only be implemented when there is an aggression on Armenian territory and often with civilian populations underneath,” Lecornu said.