YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Russia is addressing serious concerns that have been voiced by Armenia about its large-scale sales of offensive weapons to Azerbaijan, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian implied on Thursday.
Ohanian stressed in that context the importance of Russian military aid to Armenia, saying that it is continuing unabated. “Very important [Russian-Armenian] documents signed recently also ensure our progress in the military-technical area,” he told reporters.
“Of course we periodically express concerns [about Russian weapons sales to Azerbaijan.] I think that is resulting in a situation where all that is kept under control,” he added.
Ohanian did not clarify whether this means that Moscow is planning no more major arms deals with Baku.
Since 2010 Russian defense companies have reportedly supplied the Azerbaijani army with at least $4 billion worth of military hardware, including hundreds of tanks, artillery systems and combat helicopters.
Unlike many Armenian opposition politicians and pundits, the authorities in Yerevan were until recently careful not to publicly criticize the Russian arms supplies to Armenia’s arch-foe. Some Armenian officials claimed that they are offset by Russian military assistance to Armenia.
President Serzh Sarkisian first publicly voiced dismay at the Russian-Azerbaijani arms deals in July last year. He reiterated his concerns during an international media forum held in Yerevan in March.
“Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] and I have talked about this subject for many times,” Sarkisian told Russian state television late last month. “We could not have failed to talk about that.”
“I am confident that they very well realize in the Russian General Staff what consequences a disruption of the military balance would have,” he said, alluding to the risk of a renewed Armenian-Azerbaijani war for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Sarkisian admitted at the same time that Yerevan’s ability to thwart more Russian-Azerbaijani deals is limited. He also noted that the military alliance with Russian has been critical for the strength of the Armenian armed forces.