Sarkisian Concerned over Russian Arms Sales to Baku

President Serzh Sarkisian at an official reception at the Congress of Argentina. July 7, 2014.

BUENOS AIRES (RFE/RL)—President Serzh Sarkisian has reportedly voiced dismay at continuing deliveries of Russian offensive weapons to Azerbaijan, while insisting that Russia remains committed to its military alliance with Armenia.

“It is a very painful subject and our people are worried that our strategic ally sells weapons to Azerbaijan,” Sarkisian told Argentina’s “Clarin” newspaper in an interview given during his official visit to Buenos Aires this week.

“But we are very confident that Armenia has the capability to defend its borders,” he said. “Despite the fact that Russia sells weapons [to Azerbaijan] I have no doubts Russia will honor its commitments to us in times of adversity.”

Sarkisian did not specify what kind of Russian military assistance Armenia expects to receive in case of a renewed war for Nagorno-Karabakh. He insisted instead that despite its decade-long massive military build-up Azerbaijan is still not strong enough to reconquer Karabakh and other Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it. “They spend a lot of money on armaments but that cannot guarantee victory,” he said.

Russia appears to have supplied more heavy weapons to Azerbaijan than Armenia, its main regional ally, in the past several years. Citing Russian government data, the UN Register of Conventional Arms revealed last month that Azerbaijan purchased 72 tanks, 34 armored vehicles, 456 artillery systems, 37 attack helicopters and 1,200 rockets and missile systems from Moscow in 2007-2013.

Russian and Azerbaijani officials have estimated the total volume of bilateral defense contracts signed since 2010 at nearly $4 billion. A Russian newspaper reported recently that the figure could rise to $5 billion by the end of this year.

Official Yerevan has so far been careful not to publicly criticize the Russian arms supplies. Some Armenian officials have implied that they are offset by Russian military aid to Armenia. By contrast, Armenian pundits increasingly accuse Moscow of acting against the letter and spirit of Russian-Armenian defense agreements.

Samvel Mkrtchian, a senior Armenian Foreign Ministry official dealing with arms control, admitted on Thursday that the Russians do not brief Yerevan on their military cooperation with Baku. “That doesn’t fit into the framework of our strategic partnership,” he told reporters. “Those dealings are done on a bilateral basis.”

Mkrtchian avoided criticizing Moscow’s stance, saying that “Armenia is acting in the same manner.” Asked whether that means Armenia can sell weapons to countries that are in conflict with Russia, he said, “You’re getting into theoretical issues that are not applicable in practice.”


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  1. Armenian said:

    It’s a never-ending game of weapons sales, and constantly tipping on the verge of all-out warfare. Armenia and Azerbaijan lose, Russia gains, therefore, the goal will be to keep this going on for as long as possible. The biggest loser of the three will be us, though.

  2. ohannes boghossian said:

    MR. President i will never ever trust Russia or Putin look Ukraine he sold
    hes on people in Eastern Ukraine in no time and he will sell Armenia in one minute
    the only people you can trust Armenians call your people home stop the corruption
    bring law and order make Armenian home of all the Armenians this is the only way we can

  3. Ararat said:

    The fact that the ancient Armenian province of Artsakh, which should have been reunited with Armenia immediately after its liberation from the artificial state of Azerbaijan and it was not, and the fact that today Artsakh is not YET officially part of Armenia (a mere formality in my mind), I am inclined to believe the military alliance between Russia and Armenia excludes Artsakh. Therefore, the protection and the defense of Artsakh is solely the responsibility of Artsakh defense forces backed by Armenia. Unless Armenia is being supplied with weapons, comparable to what Russia is selling to the fabricated Azerbaijani state, and the fact that the head of the Armenian republic is expressing concern about this himself, what Russia is doing (at least on the surface) seems treasonous.

    This is not the first time the Russians have acted this way. The very same territory of Artsakh, along with the ancient Armenian province of Nakhichevan, was placed under Azerbaijani SSR administrative occupation by the Soviet Russians as part of the old Russian divide-and-rule policy in order to keep a piece of Armenian homeland under the occupation of our enemy, thus holding its majority Armenian population hostage to our enemy’s racist policies as a means to impose the Soviet totalitarian rule over Armenia proper unopposed.

    But the fact Russia today, in seven years’ time, has waged two wars to annex to Russia the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia and Crimea from Ukraine shows that, at least in principal, Russia has had the same aspirations as the Armenians and it is on the same side as the Armenian people because the Armenians liberated Artsakh, without yet annexing it to Armenia unfortunately, in many ways based on similar principals that inspired the Russians.

    Given all these facts, one cannot help but question the real intentions of Russia in regards to Armenia and Azerbaijan when, on the one hand, Russia seems to be principally in support of Armenia (because Russia itself did it to Georgia and Ukraine) WHILE, on the other hand, selling weapons to our enemy whom the Russians should be against in terms of their own principals. Well, I think Russia needs Armenia strategically but it also needs the artificial state of Azerbaijan economically. Azerbaijan has oil and money to spend which Russia badly needs and can use because, after all, the Soviet Union collapsed not because it was weak militarily but because it was weakened and practically went bankrupt economically.

    I think the relationship between Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan is in many ways much like the relationship between the US, Israel and the Arab states. The United States sells weapons to the Arab states, the arch enemies of US ally Israel, so it can pay for the oil it needs to import and run the country and pay for its military machine, WHILE never failing to defend Israel against the very same Arab states when necessary.

    I think Armenia and Russia are and will always be dependent on each other, one militarily and the other strategically, and everything else that’s happening are methods used by Russia to maintain this relationship. In the meantime, Russia is cozying up to Azerbaijan in order to keep Armenia in check and to strengthen Russia economically while keeping Azerbaijan away from NATO schemes and sphere of influence.

    • Armenian said:

      Keep us in check from what? What aggressively anti-Russian activities has Armenia engaged in? Stop trying to rationalize their actions, they are against us more than they are for us, and they could care less about the strategic importance of Armenia because they’ve all but acquired us into their country entirely.

      • Ararat said:

        I am not rationalizing Russian actions at all. What I am saying is that every time Russia suspects Armenia is acting in a manner that it appears to them Armenia may be trying to distance herself from the Russian sphere of influence, such as getting closer to Russia’s Western adversaries, Russia does something to remind Armenia that her potential and seemingly anti-Russian stance will be costly by acting “friendly” towards our enemy next door. That is what I mean by Russia keeping Armenia in check. Don’t you think when the head of the Armenian republic himself, who is the one with closest contact with the Russians, expresses concern over Russian actions then we should pay attention and realize that is exactly what Russia is doing?

        I don’t think Russia is against us and I don’t think Russia is necessarily our friend either. Russia primarily acts for her own interests only and that is why Russia is often times inconsistent in her foreign policy whether you consider them as your friend or enemy.

  4. ohannes boghossian said:

    MR. President i will never ever trust Russia or Putin look Ukraine he sold
    hes on people in Eastern Ukraine in no time and he will sell Armenia in one minute
    the only people you can trust Armenians call your people home stop the corruption
    bring law and order make Armenian home of all the Armenians this is the only way we can
    survive there is no outer way MR.President

  5. Hratch said:

    Mother Russia is only concerned with her interests. She will throw Armenia under the bus at the first chance. Since the Ukraine crisis the rules of the game have changed. Russia wants complete hegemony over the southern Caucasus and the only way to do that is to get Azerbaijan on board. Russia will give anything to the Azeris including Karabagh. Since we have systematically surrender our sovereignty and security to the Russians, they have complete control of our destiny. They are the puppeteer and we the marionette.

  6. GB said:

    If a war break up between Armenia and Axerbaijan, for sure Russia will lose all her influence in South Caucasus, because Armenia will become like Georgia as an EU candidate!

  7. Areg said:

    Every one who sells arms to Turkey and Azerbaijan is guilty of Genocide.

  8. Armenian said:

    These sorts of issues are more common among undemocratic nations with relatively uneducated populations who yield nothing to the other, and are quicker to resort to destructive and obstructive means of problem-solving than peaceful conflict resolution. These are two key characteristics that regimes like Aliyev and Sarkissyan need in order to maintain power.

    Of course, this applies more to Azerbaijan than it does to Armenia, but we’re not much more democratic or freer than they are. Problems like these are a thing of the past in Europe, where democracy has flourished and the masses are more empowered and vested in their governments’ and countries’ future. Armenia and Azerbaijan need democracy, and not more of the same KGB style leadership, authoritarian and autocratic leadership which only creates more hysteria, hatred, xenophobia and peril for both peoples and creates a huge market for weapons sales for Russia, who is exploiting this conflict to maximize its gains.

    Imagine if Azerbaijan were an actual democracy– it would be so much easier to deal with it than with the vile, disgusting and often times inhumane state it is now.

  9. Armenian christian said:

    They had more toys then we did last time to…heck most of the karabkh tanks were confiscated from Azeris…this time will be no different…they are foreigners on our lands…soon greater armenia will be unifed