YEREVAN — Moscow is to give Armenia a $200 million loan to purchase sophisticated Russian weapons at a discount, officials in Yerevan said on Thursday.
Armenia, which hosts a Russian military base, has been shaken by nearly two weeks of protests over plans by a Russian-owned company to hike electricity prices in the small Caucasus country.
Armenia’s deputy defense minister Ara Nazaryan told a parliament session that Russia would provide Yerevan with a 13-year loan of $200 million (€180 million) at a 3 percent interest rate.
The money will be spent to purchase modern Russian weapons at a discount in 2015-2017, he said before the parliament ratified the credit agreement with Moscow.
But some opposition politicians in Armenia criticized the deal, claiming the Kremlin was pulling Yerevan into an arms race with foe Azerbaijan, which bought $1 billion worth of tanks, artillery cannons and rocket launchers from Moscow in 2013.
“Russia is selling super-modern weapons to Armenia’s enemy Azerbaijan and thus is dragging Armenia into an arms race,” opposition Heritage party lawmaker Zaruhi Postanjyan said in parliament.
“Armenia is now forced to take a Russian loan to restore military balance in the region,” she said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a longstanding conflict over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region.