Arms and Meaning: No alarm over Russia-supplied armament to Azeris, say experts

Russia has started supplying $1billion worth of heavy weaponry to Azerbaijan, which, experts say, has different sides to it. On the one hand Russia is keeping Azerbaijan under its influence decreasing Baku’s procurement in the international market; one the other, Azerbaijan is strengthening its land positions to resolve the Karabakh issue in case of flare-ups of tension and aggravation in the conflict zone.

Russian media report that as part of the deal signed between Russia and Azerbaijan in 2011-2012 Russia has started large-scale supply of military equipment to Azerbaijan. reports that it includes battle tanks, fighting vehicles, rocket launchers, etc.

Political analyst Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan believes that the high-level military cooperation between the two countries has resumed, and respective conclusions should be drawn to keep the balance of forces in the region.

“I believe that the types of military equipment Azerbaijan has purchased cannot shift the situation [with the Nagorno Karabakh conflict]; however our foreign diplomacy has to make respective conclusions. With such an arms deal Russia is first of all advancing its own interests, and when it comes to its own interests, Russia forgets all about commitments to its strategic partners. It is obvious that in the event if the war resumes the weapon sold to Azerbaijan would be used against the same Russian army, should things get to a point when CSTO’s involvement is required upon Armenia’s request,” he told ArmeniaNow.

Russian expert Alexander Krilov stated that supplying any kind of Russian weapon to Azerbaijan, even for the sake of commerce, evokes negative response among the Armenian society, but that response is oblivious of the fact that Armenia purchases arms from Russia at domestic Russian prices, which balances the supply of weaponry to Azerbaijan… He believes that by doing so Russia is keeping Azerbaijan under its influence decreasing Baku’s weaponry procurement in the international market.

“Zavtra” (Tomorrow) newspaper’s editor-in-chief, military expert Vladislav Shurigin wrote that Russia is not interested in destabilizing the situation, and the best guarantee for it is the presence of Russian military contingent in the territory of Armenia.

“The motive is clear – the Russian side needs money. At the same time Moscow expects that Azerbaijan would not attack Armenia, the territory of which holds the troops of the country supplying weaponry to them,” wrote the expert.

Armenian defense ministry spokesman Artstrun Hovhanisyan made a Facebook post saying that Azerbaijan’s acquisition of arms and armament is not viewed as controversial or problematic, because the respective services of Armenia have known all about it starting from the moment the deals were signed.

“The types and quantity of weaponry sold does not break the balance of forces and does not create prerequisites for the Azeri leadership, of course given a reasonable approach, to launch hostilities against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. The defense ministry of Armenia will refrain from making any statements or taking positions, considering certain elements of misinformation found in the press,” he wrote.

Military expert Arkadi Grigoryan told that Azerbaijan is very consistent in its preparations for the war and has been planning in two separate directions, however the Armenian side has a rather effective counterattack capacity in any scenario.

“In one scenario it is the day-by-day growing quantity of means to strike at the same military facilities of Azerbaijan. I want to stress - not at the peaceful population, as Azerbaijan does, but directly its military facilities. In the second case, we have more than enough means to stop them at any defensive line, even if through bloodshed. Today’s Armenian army, at its combined units, has a record-breaking quantity of antitank and other types of arms and armament,” said the expert.