BBC News Україна: Whose Iskanders fired at Karabakh

  04 April 2021    Read: 1099
 BBC News Україна: Whose Iskanders fired at Karabakh

BBC News Україна has published an article on the use of Iskander missile systems during the Second Karabakh War (from late September to early November 2020).

“Azerbaijan states that it found fragments of Russia’s Iskander missiles in Karabakh. However, Moscow insists that this weapon was not used in the recent war,” says the article.

Two missiles fired on Shusha

The Mine Action Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ANAMA) showcased the fragments of two missiles in Baku on Friday. It is alleged that these are the fragments of Iskander missiles found in the city of Shusha during demining on March 15.

An ANAMA representative showed the fragments of missiles. According to the representative, experts are currently clarifying their modification.

“The wreck was at a distance of 780 meters from each other. A recent investigation showed that an Iskander-M missile was fired on the city of Shusha,” Idris Ismayilov, chief of the operational headquarters under ANAMA, said.

According to him, the check of the identification number of the missile (9M723) found out that the fragments belong to the Iskander missile system.

It should be noted that the city of Shusha is the most important strategic point.

Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces Artak Davtyan declined to comment on these reports. “I cannot say anything since the information is not subject to disclosure.”

Commenting on Baku’s statements, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Iskander missile systems were not used in the Karabakh war.

“As far as I understand, this is new information,” Peskov told reporters.

Azerbaijani media also draw attention to the fact that, judging by the markings, the missiles fired were not an export option, and they were intended for use by the Russian military.

ANAMA representative Ismayilov said the exact models of the missiles are still being specified.

Peskov, in response, reminded journalists of the situation with the Iskander: “Do you remember the story with Iskanders, that they were not used during the conflict, this was confirmed.”

This is a scandal that aggravated the political crisis in Armenia and led to the announcement of early elections.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said then that during the hostilities in Karabakh ‘Iskander missiles did not explode or only 10 percent of them fired exploded.’ Pashinyan responded to former Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan’s words that the Armenian military could use Iskanders at the very beginning of hostilities.  

Pashinyan’s administration subsequently called his statement erroneous, explaining that the prime minister had been misinformed.

Peskov was also asked if the Kremlin has any idea where the Iskander missile could come from, the fragments of which have been found.

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced in February that no Iskander missiles were used during the Karabakh conflict.

“According to the confirmed objective and reliable data we have, none of the missile systems of this type were used during the Karabakh conflict,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.

The Russian military said in February that all missile ammunition is in the warehouses of the Armenian armed forces. It was reported that Armenia received from Russia an export version of the Russian Iskander-M operational-tactical missile system.

Ukrainian columnist Roman Bochkala, who recently visited Karabakh, wrote that the discovered missiles could cause a “loud scandal”, because the launch of missiles at Shusha “looks like the handiwork of Russia”.

BBC News correspondent Grigor Ataneysan

The new data presented by Azerbaijan’s ANAMA contradict the Russian Defense Ministry’s statements which denied the very fact of the use of Iskander by Armenia.

However, Baku's statements are not the first and not the only evidence of the use of these missile systems by Armenia.

Indirect traces of their use appeared in the last days of the war.

A few hours before the signing of a ceasefire deal by the Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian leaders on November 9, 2020, a video emerged on social networks showing Armenian soldiers in front of a launcher, from which two missiles were fired with a difference of 41 seconds.

Local journalists point out that Iskander-E (the export version of Iskander) is the only system in Armenia's arsenal capable of firing missiles with such a frequency.

Furthermore, back in November, a source in the Armenian government spoke to BBC News about the possible use of Iskanders in the last days of the war. Colonel-General of the Armenian Army Movses Hakobyan also hinted at the launch of these operational-tactical missiles.

This topic was in the spotlight of military experts until the end of February as Pashinyan said that “Russia’s Iskander missiles did not explode or only 10 percent of them exploded.”

Pashinyan’s statements sparked anger in Moscow. Russia’s Defense Ministry immediately announced that no Iskander missiles were used in Karabakh. The Kremlin dismissed Pashinyan’s statements as untrue.

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