Pashinyan Spars with His Former Minister of Defense

Pashinyan Spars with His Former Minister of Defense

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan Engages in Verbal Sparring with Former Defense Minister Arshak Karapetian

Tensions between Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his former defense minister, Arshak Karapetian, have escalated with Karapetian accusing Pashinyan of high treason and vowing to overthrow him.

Karapetian, who held the position of defense minister for three months in 2021, attributed Azerbaijan’s military offensive on September 19-20 and the subsequent recapture of Karabakh to the Armenian government in a video circulated last October. He announced plans to launch a “political movement to liberate Armenia” from what he described as “a group of cowards and amateurs” in power.

In response, Pashinyan retaliated during a press conference on Tuesday, revealing that he dismissed Karapetian on November 15, 2021, citing the latter’s failure to inform him about Azerbaijani troops’ attack on a section of Armenia’s border and the seizure of Armenian army positions the day before.

Pashinyan stated, “There are two possible explanations: either Arshak Karapetian was unaware of that or was aware but did not report to me.”

Karapetian swiftly replied to the prime minister in a video posted on YouTube, asserting that on November 14, 2021, he was in Dubai on official duty and thus physically incapable of reporting the situation to Pashinyan.

The former minister, reportedly based in Russia, further alleged that Pashinyan instructed Armenian troops not to retaliate against Azerbaijani forces that crossed another section of the border in May 2021. He also accused the prime minister of obstructing his efforts to rebuild Armenia’s armed forces with Moscow’s support.

Karapetian confidently stated, “The fact that he mentioned my name means he realizes that his days are numbered. He will go and he will answer for Artsakh, for our captives, for not dealing with their release,” branding Pashinyan as “perhaps the weakest, most cowardly, and treacherous leader” in Armenian history.

Later that day, Pashinyan posted purported screenshots of his WhatsApp conversation with Karapetian from November 14, 2021, on TikTok. The exchange included a brief voice message from Karapetian assuring Pashinyan that “everything is fine here.”

Critics of Pashinyan raised concerns about his use of an insecure social media platform for official communication with his defense minister, particularly given the sensitivity of the exchanges.

Interestingly, Pashinyan had not shown any signs of dissatisfaction with Karapetian when introducing his replacement, Suren Papikian, to senior Defense Ministry officials in November 2021, stating, “I informed Mr. Karapetian this morning that I still consider him a colleague.”

Karapetian, aged 57, previously served as the chief of Armenian military intelligence until his dismissal in 2016 by then-President Serzh Sarkisian. Pashinyan appointed him as his national security adviser shortly after assuming power in May 2018 and later promoted him to the position of defense minister in August 2021.

An opposition party founded by Karapetian is scheduled to hold its inaugural congress in Yerevan next month. However, it remains uncertain whether the former minister will return to Armenia for the event.