TBILISI (AP) - Azerbaijan's defense minister called Monday on Russia to stop moving its weapons stockpiles from Georgia to Armenia and threatened to pull out of joint military exercises if Moscow refuses.
"Russian materiel is being deployed in Armenia at a time when the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has resulted in the occupation of Azerbaijani lands, remains unsettled," Interfax news agency quoted Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev as saying after a meeting with his Georgian counterpart David Tevzadze in Tbilisi.
"By doing so, Russia is turning Armenia into an explosive arsenal and an even greater hotbed of tension, which can be targeted against neighbor countries at any minute," he said. Abiyev threatened to pull out of future joint military exercises with Russia, Georgia and Armenia unless Moscow halts the weapons transfers.
Russia has been moving weapons and ammunition from Georgia to Armenia as it resumes talks with Georgian officials on pulling out of ex-Soviet bases on Georgian territory. The transfers have raised alarm in Azerbaijan, which fought a 1988-94 war with Armenian-backed forces over Nagorno-Karabakh. The two countries continue to face off over a heavily guarded no man's land.