Russian Defense Minister Urges Closer Ties With Azerbaijan

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu (R) meets with his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov in Moscow on June 15 (Photo: mil.ru)
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu (R) meets with his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov in Moscow on June 15

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu (R) meets with his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov in Moscow on June 15 (Photo: mil.ru)

MOSCOW (RFE/RL) —Risking fresh criticism from Armenia, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu on Wednesday praised Russia’s “strategic” military ties with Azerbaijan and signaled Moscow’s readiness to sell more weapons to Baku.

“Our military cooperation has a strategic character, as do all other types of cooperation between our countries,” Shoygu told his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov during talks in Moscow.

“I think that there is a potential for its further growth and development. We will certainly do everything to ensure that our friendly strategic partnership and ties continue to develop,” he said in remarks cited by the Russian Defense Ministry.

According to a ministry statement, Shoygu also said he would be “happy” to see an Azerbaijani delegation at a massive arms exhibition which the Russian military will hold outside Moscow in September. Russian defense firms will demonstrate “state-of-the-art weapons and military equipment” during the weeklong expo, the statement said.

Hasanov was reported to agree that Azerbaijani-Russian relations are “strategic and friendly.” He also stressed the importance of Russian training of Azerbaijani military personnel. He expressed hope that the number of Azerbaijanis studying at Russian military academies will rise from 72 to 88 next year.

Shoygu’s offer came just two months after an Azerbaijani army offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh that triggered the most serious escalation of the Karabakh conflict since the Armenian-Azerbaijani war of 1991-1994. Armenian leaders have publicly charged that the four-day heavy fighting along the Karabakh “line of contact” was greatly facilitated by recent years’ large-sale Russian arms supplies to Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani army has received hundreds of tanks, artillery systems, helicopters and other weaponry worth at least $4 billion in accordance with Russian-Azerbaijani defense contracts signed in 2010-2011. Many Armenians feel that those arms deals ran counter to Russia’s military alliance with Armenia.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev rejected the Armenian criticism after visiting Yerevan in early April. He said that that Russia delivers weapons to both Armenia and Azerbaijan and thereby sustains the “military balance” in the Karabakh conflict.

Russia is the main source of weapons used by the Armenian army, having supplied most of them at discounted prices or even free of charge. Armenia will buy more such weapons soon with a $200 million loan extended by the Russian government last year. Yerevan asked Moscow to speed up the planned arms supplies following the April 2-5 fighting around Karabakh.

Armenia’s First Deputy Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan most probably discussed them with his Russian counterpart Anatoly Antonov when they met in Moscow on Tuesday. The Russian Defense Ministry said they looked into “a number of pressing issues of military and military-technical cooperation between the two countries.” It gave no details.

Despite the continuing Russian military assistance to Yerevan, Moscow’s apparent readiness to cut more arms deals with Baku may prompt fresh criticism from Armenian government officials and pro-government politicians. An Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman declined to immediately comment on Shoygu’s remarks, though.

Shoygu met with Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian immediately after the talks with Hasanov. “We would like to maintain our strategic partnership,” he told Ohanian.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu (R) meets with his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov in Moscow on June 15 (Photo: mil.ru)

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu (R) meets with his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov in Moscow on June 15 (Photo: mil.ru)

The Russian minister praised defense cooperation with Armenia, singling out military training and education, rather than arms supplies. The Russian Defense Ministry quoted him as saying that Moscow is “ready” enroll more than 200 Armenian officers and cadets in Russian military academies this year.

Ohanian, for his part, said that bilateral military ties are “dynamically developing.” His press office said he also spoke with Shoygu about the “expansion of military-technical cooperation.”

Shoygu held separate talks with his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts ahead of a regular meeting in Moscow of the defense ministers of ex-Soviet states.

Shoygu hinted at more Russian arms sales to Armenia’s arch-foe despite problems in the implementation of the most recent Russian-Azerbaijani defense contracts. Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian deputy prime minister overseeing the domestic defense industry, twice visited Baku this spring to discuss them.

Russian newspapers reported early this year that the Azerbaijani side failed to fully pay for the Russian weapons so far because of a sharp fall in oil prices that has hit it hard. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov denied those reports, however, saying that Baku has not paid up in full because some of the Russian weapons do not “correspond to the technical parameters specified in the contracts.”

Authors

Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.

13 Comments

  1. Zareh Sahakian said:

    ,,,and in Armenia the oligarchy (mostly high-ranking government officials) is in competition with one another s to whom goes the honour of having the biggest mansion.

    One cannot help but think if the leadership in Armenia is pursuing how to get rich, the fastest possible manner, and flee before Armenia is totally defeated.

  2. jOE said:

    MAYBE IF OUR ARMENIAN LEADERS STOPPED STEALING THE PRECIOUS FUNDS COMING INTO ARMENIA FOR THEMSELVES AND REALLY POOLED RESOURCES FOR THE MILITARY AND ITS PEOPLE INSTEAD, WE WOULD BE WAY BETTER OF. UNFORTUNATELY ARMENIANS LOVE TO STEAL FROM OTHER ARMENIANS WHEN GIVEN THE CHANCE AS ONE ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT AFTER THE OTHER HAS PROVEN..

  3. Garo said:

    Armenia should start its own military weapons manufacturing. We have learned not to trust our fate, or owe defense to anyone. It’s obvious the world is busy making money, more than maintaining military parity in the region.

  4. Armen Sarkisian said:

    Armenia should take the golden opportunity that Azerbaijan has presented by holding the 2016 formula 1 GRAND PRIX of Europe from June 17 to June 19, 2016. One cannot think of a better time to inaugurate the newly built Stepanakert Airport and launching the regular commercial flights between Yerevan and Stepanakert. The first commercial flight and the inauguration should take place on June 16, 2016. If Azerbaijan tries to shoot down any NKR borne aircraft, then NKR will declare the entire Azerbaijani airspace a NFZ, or no-fly zone, ruining the formula 1 for Azerbaijan. I am willing to bet that pathetic and impotent Aliyev will do nothing because that is what incapable and loser cowards like him do when they helplessly flop and fail every time they convince themselves that they are someone to reckon with. Results are always the same, failure with nothing to show.

  5. Harutuyn said:

    De inch asem Hayer jan de hima el tesnum ek te ova um barekame , de hens hima e jamanake vor hayern el Amerikayi het mtnen razmakan patrastakanutyan u razmamterk arnelu mech ev hraviren Amerikyan razmagaxaparnerin depi Hayastan spyurkis ev ayo inchu che Amerikyan banakum tsarayox Hay zinvornerin vor parapen miasin , de ta haskanali e vor serjike kani te voch te inke piti harsni ira papa putinin vore vor kasi nyet blyat chto ti suma sashol.

  6. GB said:

    ” this year that the Azerbaijani side failed to fully pay for the Russian weapons”
    Russia will replace dictator Aliyev, for a better servant, or Tatar-Turks will lose 800 hectares of 4 days war victory!!

  7. Art Napetian said:

    It has become very obvious that Russia is trying yet the hardest to keep Karabakh conflict alive and unsolvable in one hand in order to sell more armas to Azerbaijan to overcome it’s recent economic problems, on the other hand gradually force Azerbaijan depending on him militarily in order to prevent, minimize Azeri connection to Nato and Turkey. This is Putin’s plan to safeguard and reinvent the Russian Empire.
    Obviously Karabakh issue will be easier solved later on by Russia depending on outcome of this policiy, regardless of we Armenians like it or not. That simple.

  8. Raffi said:

    It should not be a problem if Russia sells arms to Azerbaijan, as long that he guarantess the safety of Armenia and keeps steps ahead with it’s military assistance

  9. SAT said:

    Russia is free to sell arms to any country. However this is a special case. You cannot sell arms to two neighboring countries who are at war with each other. In order to make further comments, we need to know the details of the deal. I believe there should be a condition not to use these arms within Transcaucasus. If there is no such condition, then Russia’s actions are criminal. Armenia needs to be more decisive in its relations with Russia.
    On a separate note, most people with brains in their heads have left Armenia, so the brainless idiots are at power. There are no signs this will change in the near future. So the motherland is in danger. Whose fault is it? I guess those who left to find a better life elsewhere and those who stayed but are busy expanding their personal wealth instead of (or incapable of) taking care of the country.

    • Raffi said:

      The sad reality is Armenians have NO choice at all, if other choice is the West, than we are fuckd. Russia knows that Armenians know well that they can’t trust the West, so we go back to square one. NO one else but Russia.

  10. Ari said:

    It’s a tragedy that corrupt Rissians along with money chasing American and European politicians and businessmen are so blind that can’t see who the real enemy is. Turks will skin alive all Christians once they get the upper hand, as they murdered the Armenian nation.

*

Top