Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 71

The Russian Duma’s Defense Committee chairman, Gen. Lev Rokhlin, indicated yesterday that Russia’s clandestine deliveries of military hardware to Armenia had involved more routes and more personnel than hitherto assumed. Rokhlin revealed in a televised interview that the deliveries were carried out by air from Siberia and the Volga region, by sea from Novorossiisk, and overland from the North Caucasus. The latter two routes would imply clandestine transport via Georgia. Rokhlin added that his investigation had also turned up evidence of Russian arms deliveries to Abkhazia. In Tbilisi, the Georgian parliament’s Defense and Security Commission chairman, Revaz Adamia, stated that Georgian military personnel had detected some of the deliveries and attempted but failed to stop them. The Russian transports used the Russian base network in Georgia. Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili, on a visit to Baku, confirmed the information and offered to cooperate with a Russian investigation into the matter.

Azerbaijani president Haidar Aliev, receiving Menagarishvili yesterday, described the situation as dangerous for Georgia and the entire region. Aliev and Menagarishvili conferred on regional security and the Azerbaijani-Georgian-Ukrainian project for a Europe-Central Asia transit corridor. Aliev signed a decree yesterday legalizing Azerbaijan’s participation in the project and tasking the government to begin its implementation jointly with the Georgian and Ukrainian governments.

In Yerevan, Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisian asserted yesterday on national television that "this ruckus… aims to weaken the Armenian army and render the country vulnerable." Armenia lacks natural resources but "is respected for its military superiority," Sarkisian said. (NTV, April 9; Interfax, Turan, Noyan Tapan, April 8-9) Yerevan has yet to explicitly deny the revelations.

Rokhlin revealed the dimensions of these gratis deliveries to Armenia at a closed-doors special sitting of the Duma last week. His report, leaked to the press, cites 8 R-17 missile-launching systems, 27 Krug systems with 349 missiles to them, 40 Igla systems, 18 Grad systems, 40 Osa missiles, and large quantities of other armaments and ammunition. These deliveries came on top of the 84 battle tanks and 50 infantry fighting vehicles, whose gratis delivery Rokhlin revealed in February. The time span of the deliveries was 1994-96, including the initial months of current Defense Minister Igor Rodionov’s tenure. Rokhlin named former defense minister Pavel Grachev, his first deputy and General Staff chief Mikhail Kolesnikov, and the former commander of Russian forces in Transcaucasus, Col. Gen. Fyodor Reut, as personally responsible for the operation. Rodionov moved to stop the deliveries and endorsed Rokhlin’s efforts to expose them. Azerbaijan’s president, Foreign Ministry, and parliament have each asked their respective Russian counterparts to investigate the scandal; Aliev has sent three requests to Boris Yeltsin. Russia’s Defense Ministry is investigating, while the Kremlin has somewhat more ambiguously indicated an intent to do so.

Inter-Tajik Talks Open and Break Down.