By Emil Danielyan
Faced with continuing protests from Azerbaijan, Russia on Friday again denied Azerbaijani media claims that it supplied large quantities of military hardware and other weapons to Armenia last year.
An Azerbaijani news website published late last week a scanned copy of what it called a document certifying the transfer of the weapons that belonged to Russian troops stationed in Armenia.
The document, purportedly signed by a deputy commander of Russia’s North Caucasus Military District, contained a long list of armaments allegedly handed over to the Armenian military free of charge. Those included 21 battle tanks, 50 armored vehicles, as well as more than 40 artillery systems and 4,000 automatic rifles along with ammunition for them.
The Russian Defense Ministry denied the report on Wednesday after Baku demanded an explanation from Russia’s ambassador to Azerbaijan. But that did not stop the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry from expressing “strong protest in connection with the transfer of arms to Armenia” the next day.
“The person whose name was mentioned by mass media did not sign any documents, and no deliveries were carried out,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov insisted at a news conference on Friday. Russian news agencies quoted him as saying that he will reiterate these assurances during his upcoming visit to Baku.
Lavrov noted at the same time that as a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Armenia is entitled to receiving Russian weapons at cut-down prices. “Armenia is a member of the CSTO and enjoys more privileged terms,” he said. “Our Azerbaijani colleagues are aware of that and have no questions.”