Rationalizing the Tonoyan Doctrine: Armenia’s Active Deterrence Strategy

By Eduard Abrahamyan

Even as Armenia and Azerbaijan have intensified their diplomatic contacts over the future status of the latter’s breakaway Karabakh region (see EDM, February 13March 4April 1), both rivals concurrently continue to consolidate their military capabilities, considering an escalation in tensions almost inevitable. Both sides have been reevaluating their military strategies and hardening their rhetoric. In this context, Armenia’s Defense Minister David Tonoyan, a reformist long-serving member of Nikol Pashinyan’s government, represents the hawkish faction of the current Armenian political elite. And in late March, during a visit to the United States, Tonoyan openly rebuked the Azerbaijani side’s zero-sum “land for peace” formula for conflict resolution, in which a bilateral settlement would require that the Armenian side first make territorial concessions to Azerbaijan. Instead, he called on Armenia to prepare to pursue “new war for new territories” (Aravot.am, March 30).

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