Yeltsin Had Not Authorized Arms Sale Kremlin Says

MOSCOW (Reuter–Noyan Tapan)–The Kremlin said Monday neither President Boris Yeltsin nor his government had authorized Russian arms supplies to Armenia.

Yeltsin’s press office said an investigation by the presidential administration had shown the arms were supplied without the permission of the government or the president.

"It was established that neither the head of state nor the Russian government issued any decisions allowing supplies of arms and military equipment to Armenia," the presidential press office said in a statement.

"At the same time–analysis of documen’s obtained (during the investigation) showed that some of the equipment and weapons were shipped in violation of rules set by presidential decrees and orders."

Lev Rokhlin–head of the State Duma lower house of parliament’s defense committee–told closed hearings earlier this month that Russia had supplied Armenia with up to $1 billion worth of arms from 1993 to 1996.

He said the shipmen’s included tanks–anti-aircraft missiles and a large quantity of ammunition.

Rokhlin accused Russian military officials of handing over the arms to Armenia’s illegally–bypassing parliament.

Azeri leaders have demanded that Russia take back its arms from Armenia.

Yeltsin’s press office said that data recovered during the checks had been handed over to the prosecutors’ office for further investigation.

Meanwhile–First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Armenian Communist Party Sergey Badalian has made public documen’s which put into question the allegations on illegal arms supplies from Russia to Armenia.

According to Badalian it is revealed by the available documen’s that the recent denunciations are aimed at weakening the Russian military presence in the region and are made under the pretext of a campaign against corruption in the Russian armed forces.

As for Armenia–under the Russian-Armenian agreement on legal status of the Russian Armed Forces of August 21–1992–the limited amount of arms and military equipment and property of the former USSR Army were equally divided between the Russian military units and the Armenian armed forces.

Today Russia does not pay any rent for the deployment of its military base in Armenia. Moreover–Armenia covers 50 percent of expenses on border troops and 25 percent of the expenses connected with the presence of the Russian armed forces on its territory.

Meanwhile–the amount of military vehicles and combat supplies received by Azerbaijan from the Soviet army are significantly more.

During the Transcaucasian Military District–the combat supplies and arms stored in the Azeri SSR were a strategic reserve of the South Direction Headquarters. After withdrawal of the Russian troops from Azerbaijan–the latter received all arms–military equipment and infrastructure which were left on its territory by the Soviet army–namely: four motorized infantry divisions–a paratroopers division–a special military brigade–two anti-aircraft brigades–four air force bases as well as the Caspian Navy and the Gabalin radar.

Apart from this–during combat operations in 1992-1994 the Azeri army was to a great extent replenished with NATO arms and equipment. At present time–approximately 1,000 officers of the Azeri armed forces are being trained at military establishmen’s of Turkey–as well as accumulate combat experience while participating in operations of Turkish forces on the extermination of the Kurdish population.

In 1995 Azerbaijan sealed an agreement with Ukraine–under which the latter pledged to supply arms to Azerbaijan in exchange for oil.

The Ukrainian army also provides Azerbaijan with military instructors who assist in technical re-armament of the Azeri army.

The authors of the document provided by the Armenian side allege that Azeri diplomats even tried to recruit Bundeswehr instructors.

However–the German government banned Bundeswehr to render any assistance to Azerbaijan. According to some data–Turkey is planning to allocate a lump sum to Azerbaijan for purchase of new arms and restructuring of the army. Turkey and Azerbaijan intend to organize a joint production of "ground-to-ground" missiles and turbojets.

According to a declaration by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s International Congress for Human Rights–organized by its co-chairman Vitali Danilov–Azerbaijan has violated European agreemen’s on conventional armament by amassing its artillery capabilites.

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