Military balance in the South Caucasus
By Messenger Staff
Friday, July 25The South Caucasus is stuck with soldiers and weapons. They can be taken as the “richest” countries of the world in this regard. Military budgets of the countries are permanently increasing. There are two strains of thought over the situation. One opinion states that such armament will lead to a war in the region, while the second claims that the current developments are essential for keeping a balance. As Latins said: Sivis pacem para bellum (want peace, get ready for war).
Azerbaijan is taking the primary position with regard to military capacity and expenditure, reaching 3,7 billion USD. It has 77,000 soldiers and officers, possessing 340 tanks, 700 armored wehicles, 14 MiG 29 destroyer planes, 19 destroyers, 40 attacking helicopters, 30 transportation helicopters and numerous artillery and missile devices as well as other weaponry.
Russia is the main weapon-supplier to Azerbaijan, followed by Ukraine. Azerbaijan buys weapons from Belarus as well. Azerbaijan bought some weapons from Israel. The country spends a large amount of money in weaponry gained from its oil income.
As it is known, Azerbaijan is in a conflict situation with Armenia. Armenia spent 447 million USD on 1013 in military issues. It has 45,000 soldiers in its army, it owns 200 tanks, 240 armored vehicles, 240 artillery systems, 15 S-25 destroyers, 10 combat and 10 transportation helicopters.
From a financial point of view, Azerbaijan is more capable to purchase weapons. Yerevan is actively supported by Russia as well in terms of weaponry. Like Azerbaijan, Armenia also purchases weapons from Ukraine. It also buys them from Slovakia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, Azeri military potential seriously exceeds Armenian. Meanwhile, Russian soldiers’ being on Armenian territory is a security guarantor for the little country.
Georgia’s military expenditure increased under Mikheil Saakashvili’s presidency. It reached over 1 billion USD by 2007. However, after losing the war with Russia in August 2008, Georgia’s military expenditure went down. Georgia has 20,000 soldiers, 90 tanks, around 200 combat vehicles, 185 artillery devices, 12 S-25 destoyers and about 30 transport helicopters.
Before the war in 2008, Ukraine was the main supplier for Georgia in terms of weapons. Georgia has also purchased weapons from the Czech Republic. Georgia has been buying weapons from Bulgaria since 2011. Georgia has refused to create a large army, focused more on formation of compact arm forces, which should be able to comply with NATO standards.
There are two big players Turkey and Iran that have their own military potential in the region. Turkey is a NATO member country as well.