2021 August 8
- 1 Daily news wrap-up
- 2 interview with Vova Vardanov, the head of VOMA military training camp / recent border clashes / army reforms / Operation Ring in 1991 / POWs / peacekeepers
- 3 MOD intruduces 3rd Army Corps commander / orders big and small to use "every means available" to prevent Azeri encroachment attempts
- 4 Azerbaijan violates ceasefire in Syunik province
- 5 anti-corruption: mayor of Tatev (Syunik) is charged with embezzlement and placed on the wanted list
- 6 lightning strike disables Tatev aerial tramway mid-air, passengers evacuated
- 7 Gyumri-Isahakyan (Turkey border) road is being rebuilt
- 8 Spandaryan (Shirak) will have a new irrigation network
- 9 part of Kasakh river basin was cleaned up in Armavir province
- 10 Armenia will export bone implants that save limbs
- 11 Eurowings launches a new Cologne/Bonn-Yerevan flight
- 12 cheap vacation: you can camp and fly on a paraplane in Armenia instead of uploading expensive pics from the Maldives:
- 13 PHOTOS: U.S. ambassador Lynn Tracey is enjoying her vacation in Syunik
- 14 COVID stats since Saturday
- 15 Armenia finishes 47th in Tokyo Olympics medal count
- 16 CHART: Armenia is one of the leaders in vegetable consumption per capita
- 17 Vahan Mikaelyan installed flamethrowers in his VAZ 21-06 vehicle
- 18 Russian blogger Sergey Vasiliev camping in Artsakh forests:
- 19 end of report
- 20 Support David's Daily Armenia News Summaries!
Daily news wrap-up
News - Aug/8/2021: Interview with VOMA army coach Vardanov: reforms, borders, 1990s __ Defense Minister presents 3rd Army Corps chief, orders all commanders to use "any means necessary" __ Aerial ropeway struck by lightning __ Bone implants Made in Armenia __ Road & irrigation repairs __ Tourism++
Your 9-minute weekend recap in 2456 words.
interview with Vova Vardanov, the head of VOMA military training camp / recent border clashes / army reforms / Operation Ring in 1991 / POWs / peacekeepers
Reporter: there were clashes on Nakhijevan and Gegharkunik borders, and the Armenian army has already downed several Azeri [survellience] drones. What does this mean, and how do we counter this?
Vardanov: we have enough forces to counter that. The only necessary thing is for soldiers to shoot, instead of reporting the encroaching enemy.
[Discusses the recent Gegharkunik clashes in which Azeris temporarily captured then lost an Armenian position within hours]. We sustained deaths and wounds, but we also have a reason to be proud because one of the wounded soldiers we found was holding a grenade in his hand. It wouldn't be bad if the media reported and praised that guy.
The next day we answered Azeris and destroyed one of their positions [has this been officially disclosed?].
Reporter: what about the drones?
Vardanov: that's normal. They are trying to achieve more than what they got on Nov 9. Our army must answer disproportionately. Don't worry about "being brought to justice" by the international community. You are defending yourself.
Reporter: perhaps because we still feel defeated after the 2020 war...
Vardanov: I disagree. Sure, we haven't recovered fully but we have units, including in Gegharkunik, that are undefeated. Their morale is very high. They are the boys from the 2nd Army Corps who protected Qarvachar [Kelbajar, northern Artsakh].
The soldiers who defended Mt. Omar during the 2020 war are now stationed in Gegharkunik's Verin Shorzha borders. As you know, Turks were only able to capture one position in Mt. Omar before leaving 100+ deaths and retreating.
There must be a desire to protect. It has to come from the military-political leadership. We have done everything in the past several decades to do the opposite, to ensure the soldier does not take the initiative.
It has to be the opposite. So far we have done everything for soldiers to shift the blame on higher-ups. The attitude is: "let the generals figure this out because they are the ones who would get the medal if we did it right anyway".
I think there was an attempt by Seyran Ohanyan to fix this in 2015 by giving an order to allow lower-ranking commanders to open fire upon discovering enemy accumulation. But that was not enough. The 2016 war is your proof.
Reporter: Pashinyan suggested deploying Russian guards across the entire border. They deployed several in Voskepar (Tavush). Is this being done ahead of enclave discussions?
Vardanov: I'm not sure if the Russian presence in Tavush is related to enclaves. There hasn't been any official report from Russia. Only Russia can accurately report what they are doing there. The rest is assumptions and fantasies.
Moreover, the Russian guards went there the day before Pashinyan's statements [about deploying Russians everywhere]. Perhaps we learned about it late?
We should not become a vassal to a "senior ally". We should not rely on foreign soldiers. You can't guarantee they will help you by paying them and giving them wine. They might receive an order from above and do things you won't like.
Do you know the Operation Ring in 1991? It's when the de-facto Russian forces encircled Armenian settlements, including in Tavush, and emptied them. Dashkesan settlements... we have already forgotten about them. Shahumyan was encircled, Turkish OMON and irregulars then invaded it.
Do you know what Operation Ring's original purpose was? For the Armenian population to be defended, and for the aggressive Azeri population to be temporarily removed. But with a snap of the finger from the Kremlin, the weapon turned against Armenians.
Peacekeepers and foreign forces are a great evil. They are useful when you work towards your army and develop your population with military training. But if you don't do anything, it's a double-evil.
First, it can turn the weapon at you or leave instead of helping. Second, when they come, you get comfortable and forget to work on yourself. I've studied this phenomenon around the world. When peacekeepers come, one of the sides stops working.
Absolutely do take advantage of their presence. We have not taken advantage of the presence of the 102nd Russian army in Gyumri. The 3-5 thousand Russians had given us the opportunity not to feed and dress 20,000 Armenian soldiers on the Turkish border.
We could have accumulated those savings since 1993 to spend on important programs: industry, train the population, etc. We're talking about no upkeep on 20,000 soldiers for 30 years. That's a humongous sum.
But we did not take advantage of that. Today we have POWs, most of whom are volunteers from Shirak (Gyumri). Do you know why they are from Shirak?
Reporter misunderstands his question: according to official data, Russian peacekeepers arrived there late. Pashinyan even said that Russian peacekeepers themselves were encircled.
Vardanov: it doesn't matter Russians came or not. Had the volunteers been routinely trained for at least 10 days every year, they would not give up.
I've never met a mobilized reservist who is prepared for war. Those volunteers from Shirak were unprepared, and the nearby Russian peacekeepers made them even lazier. In comparison, a volunteer from Hrazdan or Lori wasn't accustomed to seeing a Russian soldier every day, and they did not get captured.
Reporter: regarding reservists. The Defense Ministry recently announced plans to retrain 870 reservists.
Vardanov: 870 is not a small number but training them for 3 months is a mistake. It's too long. You are taking them away from their businesses while paying pennies as compensation. It gives their business competitors an unfair advantage. There is no need to train them for 3 months because we are not the Soviet Union. Don't blindly copy laws from Russia, Canada, and Australia.
A few years ago I had a disagreement with army chief Onik Gasparyan. I offered 9-day training 3 times a year. You can train 870 for 3 months, or you can train 5,000 for a shorter period, for the same money.
Reporter: on April 9 [before the May 12 Azeri intrusion] you warned that Azerbaijan will try to attack, especially because of ongoing support from Turkey. You said that the attack could be from Ararat valley or Syunik.
Vardanov: Yes. They want to improve their positions for long-term purposes in the future. The same happened in 2016... the so-called "victorious Armenian army"... what did Azeris do? They attacked in two directions [north and south, similar to 2020]. In both locations, they captured important heights, came forward, then went back to those newly captured heights to secure them. They started the 2020 war from those captured heights in Talish and Lala.
Their today's actions have a similar purpose. The Yeraskh (north-west Nakhijevan) is just a diversionary tactic. They don't have the resources to do anything serious there. They are interested in Syunik.
This also allows them to drive a wedge between Armenian and Russian relations. Only a complete idiot will think Russia is not our ally. Turks will provoke a few hundred meters from Russians, Russians will not intervene, you will start hating Russians. We have to be a total idiot to fall for this provocation and turn Russia from an ally to an enemy.
We need a small low-profile marginal group to occasionally throw eggs at the Russian embassy. The same for all embassies, if you want to apply pressure. We need a few of those fake "extremist" groups who will not go any further than throwing eggs. Poke'em a little bit.
Reporter: but it wouldn't be beneficial for Russia to sit silent and allow Azerbaijan to do what it wants.
Vardanov: Russia doesn't care if the region is controlled by Azeris or Armenians. They just want to block NATO (Turkey). They won't care if Azerbaijan captures some lands. A few days of angry comments followed by nothing.
Russia doesn't want the Turkey-Azerbaijan railway in Nakhijevan. The Kars-Georgia-Azerbaijan railway mostly transports military cargo. It's not economically beneficial. The same about the supposed Turkey-Nakhijevan-Syunik-Azerbaijan railway. Russia will be the one to block it.
Offer the Azeris to drive from Azerbaijan to Nakhijevan directly through Syunik for a fee. $40 for lightweight, $200 for a heavy truck. They won't agree because they will be afraid of safety. They are not interested in it economically. They are interested in the railways for military deliveries. Maybe Georgians charge them too much so they want to travel through Syunik without paying. [Context: hence Aliyev's "corridor" talk, while Pashinyan insists on installing border customs checkpoints and presumably charging fees just as on any other border.]
So the Russians are our allies. They wouldn't want NATO troops to go from Turkey to southern Russian borders in under two days via Syunik. As for the financial part, Iran is our ally because they wouldn't want to lose delivery fees if Azerbaijan had free travel rights through Syunik.
Reporter: is our army finally recovering? Despite the recent casualties in Gegharkunik, they proved that they are able to defend again.
Vardanov: Yes. Our army is standing. I believe the army command understands that. The problem is our resources have significantly depleted. It's not like we don't have any heavy weapons, it's just that we have a lot less. They are working on it.
The military command also understands the need to deploy non-defeated units to important positions. They deployed specialized non-infantry units in Ishkhanasar and elsewhere to gain experience.
In this regard, the Defense Ministry is not bad. Another topic is the OSA-AK [air defense] story. I was very happy when they purchased the crap from Jordan. I was convinced that we would be smart enough to "modernize" them and launch a new military industry. But instead, we "renovated" them. These units did their job, but had we modernized them, they would have achieved a lot more.
Now the same is true about the army. We must modernize instead of repairing it.
Reporter: there was a vehicle incident involving your soldiers.
Vardanov: the car flipped over while descending from Goris positions. Only the car was damaged. No one was injured because they are all from the "Art of staying alive" [VOMA's slogan]. As they say, ինչ լինումա ժեշտին լինի.
MOD intruduces 3rd Army Corps commander / orders big and small to use "every means available" to prevent Azeri encroachment attempts
Alexander Tsakanyan has replaced Yuri Khachaturov's son Grigori Khachaturov as the commander of the 3rd Army Corps. Grigori's contract was left to expire recently.
MOD Arshak Karapetyan: any Azeri encroachment must be prevented. It is your duty. Everyone, from Corps commander to local commanders, have the authority to use any means to protect our borders.
We don't want escalations, but if they attempt to intrude on our territory, I order all of you to use any means available to prevent that. [it was reported last week that MOD instructed commanders to immediately open fire if they notice advancing enemy.]
Azerbaijan violates ceasefire in Syunik province
MOD: Azeris opened fire towards the Armenian positions near Sev Lich at 11:40 am on Saturday, for 20 minutes. The Armenian army returned fire to silence it. No injuries.
anti-corruption: mayor of Tatev (Syunik) is charged with embezzlement and placed on the wanted list
Investigators report: the 2016-2021 mayor of Tatev leased the municipality's excavator to a company but did not add the collected ֏14.4 million to the municipal budget... He also used public resources to do construction on his private farm... The mayor also embezzled ֏2.6 million in fuel belonging to the municipality. There is a warrant for his arrest. //
lightning strike disables Tatev aerial tramway mid-air, passengers evacuated
Tramway workers called the emergency services at 3:58 pm after a lightning strike caused the wagons to get stuck mid-air near Syunik's Halidzor village. It took a few hours for rescuers to evacuate the 42 passengers
Gyumri-Isahakyan (Turkey border) road is being rebuilt
The government decided to rebuild this badly damaged 2.5km section for ֏595 million instead of renovating it. It will have a water removal system.
Spandaryan (Shirak) will have a new irrigation network
... instead of relying on small natural streams that have a high water loss rate. An additional 5ha will receive irrigation.
part of Kasakh river basin was cleaned up in Armavir province
Nature Ministry says the cleanups will have a periodic nature and will involve the population. "Every citizen should know their responsibilities towards the natural monuments in their territory."
Armenia will export bone implants that save limbs
Turn an implant into a bone... This process is done in Armenia by the AIP Tech company.
The computer tomography of the damaged bone is used to create a 3D model, which is then used to create a bone implant. It can be installed between joints and other areas.
The implant perfectly sits in the missing part of the bone. It has holes so the surrounding bone can naturally grow and fill it up.
The technology allows doctors to save wounded soldiers' limbs from being amputated. It can replace chins and legs.
Diasporan Marine Aghayan founded the company and moved to Armenia to provide help.
Eurowings launches a new Cologne/Bonn-Yerevan flight
Armenia International Airports: we're happy Eurowings is entering the Armenian market. From now on, opportunities to travel directly to Europe will increase.
Lufthansa Group: Together with Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, and now Eurowings as one of the leading Low-Cost Carriers, we are glad to increase our Lufthansa Group presence in Yerevan.
cheap vacation: you can camp and fly on a paraplane in Armenia instead of uploading expensive pics from the Maldives:
PHOTOS: U.S. ambassador Lynn Tracey is enjoying her vacation in Syunik
Tracey is enjoying "wonderful scenery, starry nights, and hospitable people." The locals took her on a mountain camping trip and visited cultural sites.
COVID stats since Saturday
13,153 tested. 532 infected. 391 healed. 14 deaths. 5164 active.
Armenia finishes 47th in Tokyo Olympics medal count
17 athletes won 2 silver and 2 bronze medals.
United States 1st, Turkey 13th, Georgia 29th, Azerbaijan 33rd, Armenia 47th.
CHART: Armenia is one of the leaders in vegetable consumption per capita
as of 2014:
full 1961-2017 results: https://youtu.be/bF246NjR3CY?t=142
Vahan Mikaelyan installed flamethrowers in his VAZ 21-06 vehicle
Russian blogger Sergey Vasiliev camping in Artsakh forests:
end of report
The accused are innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "appear" guilty.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/p0t9yp/news_aug82021_interview_with_voma_army_coach/
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