Sarkisian Grills Medvedev Over Arms Sales To Azerbaijan

President Serzh Sarkisian (right) discusses Artsakh with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
President Serzh Sarkisian (right) discusses Artsakh with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

President Serzh Sarkisian (right) discusses Artsakh with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—In a stern rebuke to Moscow, President Serzh Sarkisian told Russia’s visiting Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev late on Thursday that Azerbaijan used Russian weapons purchased in recent years during heavy fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh that broke out a week ago.

The two men discussed the unprecedented escalation and Russian efforts to defuse tensions in the Karabakh conflict zone when they met in Yerevan.

“Dmitry Anatolievich, I’m sure you know that the fact that the Azerbaijanis used in full weapons that they acquired in Russia recently has had a lot of resonance in Armenia,” Sarkisian said in his opening remarks at the meeting. “This is natural because the people of Armenia consider Russia to be our closest ally and friend.”

Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian likewise told Medvedev earlier on Thursday that the Azerbaijani army used Russian-made T-90 tanks, TOS-1A flamethrowers and devastating Smerch rocket systems during the fighting. Baku bought these and other weapons as part of defense contracts with Moscow worth at least $4 billion. They were reportedly signed in 2009-2011, at a time when Medvedev served as Russia’s president.

Armenian critics of these deals argue that unlike Azerbaijan, Armenia is allied to Russia politically and militarily. They say that the Russian arms sales to Armenia’s arch-foe run counter to that alliance even considering the fact that Moscow has long been providing military assistance to Yerevan.

Medvedev did not react to Sarkisian’s complaint at the start of the talks. It is not clear whether Sarkisian demanded a halt to further arms deliveries to Baku after the talks continued behind the closed doors.

According to the TASS news agency, one of Medvedev’s deputies, Dmitry Rogozin, defended the Russian-Azerbaijani arms deals when he spoke to reporters in Baku on Friday. He hinted that Moscow intends to complete arms deliveries envisaged by them.

Sarkisian also told Medvedev that Yerevan expects from Moscow “targeted statements and concrete actions” that would keep Baku from again ratcheting up tensions in the conflict zone. He warned that another “large-scale” Azerbaijani attack on Karabakh would result in a full-blown war.

Medvedev proceeded to Baku on Friday. Meeting with the Russian premier, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claimed that he had “no intentions to start large-scale hostilities” along the Karabakh “line of contact.” “We simply defended our positions and peaceful lives of our citizens,” Aliyev said.

Armenia Blasts Kazakhstan Over Summit Cancellation

Armenia has accused Kazakhstan of damaging the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with its refusal to attend a high-level meeting of the Russian-led bloc’s member states in Yerevan in an apparent show of support for Azerbaijan.

The prime ministers of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were scheduled to hold a regular session of the EEU’s “intergovernmental council” in the Armenian capital on Friday. The meeting was cancelled after Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Karim Masimov refused to attend it, proposing Moscow as an alternative venue.

Sarkisian raised the matter with Medvedev when they met in Yerevan late on Thursday. “I regret that some of our partners among Eurasian Economic Union member states have refused to come to Yerevan for participating in the pre-planned event,” Sarkisian told Medvedev.

“I don’t know just how much they have helped Azerbaijan with that move, but that they have undermined the reputation of our organization is beyond doubt,” he said.

The Kazakh government, which currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the EEU, has publicly given no reasons for its stance. Observers believe it wants to move the summit to avoid the impression that Kazakhstan, which has strong linguistic and cultural ties with Azerbaijan, supports Armenia in the Karabakh conflict.

Like other Muslim and Turkic Central Asian states, Kazakhstan has repeatedly signed up to pro-Azerbaijani multilateral declarations on the dispute.

Medvedev sought to downplay Kazakhstan’s stance. “In part, one can probably understand their behavior and decision because not everyone is so well informed about the current situation and about what could happen and what will happen,” he told the Armenian president.

Medvedev said that Moscow will strive to arrange an EEU prime ministerial meeting in Yerevan later this year. But it remained unclear whether the cancelled session will take place in the Russian capital next week.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin again phoned his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev on Friday to discuss what a Kremlin statement described as a “timetable of upcoming high-level meetings within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union.”

According to the statement, Putin also briefed Nazarbayev on the escalation of the Karabakh conflict and Russian efforts to restore the Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire.

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8 Comments

  1. Arn.Sweden. said:

    Well ? could Iran be an alternative to Russia ?
    Do Russia realy want an Panturkish State in its underbelly ?
    Arn.Sweden.

  2. DropRussia said:

    It looks like, as anticipated, Russia sells Armenia again for a fist-full of dollars (or Rubels). There is a price to pay for alliances, but Russia is taking us foregranted. Isn’t it time to look to the West again and negotiate an alliance that costs less?

  3. Ahmet said:

    Medvedev looks very much grilled by Mr. Sarkissian! Poor Medvedev.

  4. Harutik said:

    I know this is going to be difficult for many of you to digest but try to understand that Russia is doing its best to keep Azerbaijan from drifting away. The last thing Russia needs is another hostile neighbor. From an Armenian perspective, it is better to keep Azerbaijan within the Russian orbit. If Baku breaks its ties with Moscow, Azerbaijan will become a breeding ground for Islamist, Turkish, Israeli and Western interests. Also, if Russia did not sell anything to Baku, Baku would still have the billions to purchase arms from Ukraine, Poland, China, Turkey, Israel, Britain, USA, etc, and Russia would lose any leverage it has over Baku. The reason why Moscow was able make Baku agree to a ceasefire was because of this leverage. Had there not been a Russian factor in Baku, it would be a whole different ball game and the region would most probably engulf in an inferno. So, be careful what you wish for. You people need to look at the bigger geostrategic picture.

    • Tavit said:

      Hantik has Russian and Turkish blood in him. He is basically Russian, Azerbaijani and Turkish propagandist and apologist. How may tavagan’s (Traitors ) did your family produced?

    • Raffi said:

      I agree with you, Armenians should have patience with Russia, they should remember that the west is not as trustworthy as most Armenians think, last 100 years they’ve been sitting on their ass without doing anything to help the Armenians, Turkey against all Int’l laws closed the border and the west all they did was watch how Armenians suffer

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