Alleged Russia Missile Sale to Azerbaijan Unclear

The Russian missle system at the center of the controversy

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Russian defense officials made on Monday conflicting statements about reports that Moscow plans to sell sophisticated air-defense systems to Azerbaijan that could affect the balance of forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Citing Russian arms industry sources, Russia’s “Vedomosti” business daily reported last week that Azerbaijan last year signed a deal with the Rosoboronexport arms exporter to purchase two batteries of S-300 anti-aircraft systems worth $300 million. A Rosoboronexport spokesman denied the report, saying that the state-run company “has no contractual obligations whatsoever on this matter.”

The Interfax news agency quoted on Monday an unnamed “high-ranking source” from the Russian Defense Ministry as calling the report “nonsense.” “Today, the supply of Russian S-300s to Azerbaijan is impossible for primarily political reasons,” he said, pointing to the unresolved Karabakh dispute.

“Given the complicated relations between Yerevan and Baku, the export of S-300s to Azerbaijan would no doubt destroy the balance of forces in the region. Besides, Armenia is Russia’s ally within the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization), and Yerevan could see such arms contracts between Moscow and Baku as a betrayal,” the official added, according to Interfax.

However, another unnamed ministry source quoted by the Moscow daily “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” claimed the opposite, downplaying the Rosoboronexport denial. “This deal is only being planned and negotiated, but a decision to that effect has already been made, in principle, by the [Russian] government,” he said.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman commented ambiguously on this claim. “We are not confirming that information for the moment,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “We know nothing about it. That’s why we don’t refute or confirm it.”

The Azerbaijani government, for its part, has pointedly declined to deny the reported missile deal. “Azerbaijan has been steadily strengthening its armed forces and
will continue doing so,” a spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Baku, Teymur Abdullayev, told Interfax on Sunday.

Official Yerevan has so far been silent over the possible S-300 sale. The Armenian Foreign Ministry declined a comment on Monday.


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  1. Tony said:

    In my view, if Moscow sells sophisticated air-defense systems to Azerbaijan, it means to me that Russia can not be trusted as a stratigic ally. Additionally, it means, “Money is more important to these Russian politicians than a real and true ally in the Region.”

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  3. Avetis said:

    I think Armenians need to stop panicking. Even if this story turns up to be true, this particular weapons system will do Azerbaijan no good in any war with Armenia.

  4. john said:

    Avetis is exactly right. This is simply a previously agreed upon game between Russian and Armenian governments. The long term plan is to drain the azeri petro dollars while spreading and institutionalizing deep corruption and eventually strangulating it in it’s reduced box at an opportune time..

  5. john said:

    anything that Russia MIGHT sell to azeris/turks, Armenia finds or gets the key to neutralizing it even before any delivery.

  6. vrej said:

    who here is under the illusion that russia would prevent a war?
    they lost georgia, a neighboring country to the NATO, along with ukraine…etc. do you think they would risk losing azerbaijan? a country with oil and gas, bigger population and army than georgia, muslim (cuz they probably think they need as many musim friends as they can get). dont trust russia, use them but dont count on them.
    REMEMBER: all our “christian” “allies” left us flat on our faces during and after the genocide, when oil was discovered in azerbaijan and turkey. thats england, US, russia. georgians are a bunch of traitors and theyre starting to mess with us too, iran is unreliable because the have a region in their north east with millions of azeris..
    we must learn to be truly independant. trust A.R.F.!