Armenians should not criticize Russia for selling weapons to Azerbaijan despite its military alliance with Armenia, the secretary of President Serzh Sarkisian’s National Security Council said on Friday.
Artur Baghdasarian insisted that Russia has a legitimate right to make arms deals with third countries, including Armenia’s arch-foe. He also announced that Moscow and Yerevan are poised to sign a new agreement on defense and security.
Baghdasarian was commenting on reports that the Russians have begun delivering $1 billion worth of tanks and other military hardware to Azerbaijan. The reports, not yet officially confirmed by Moscow, have raised eyebrows in Armenian media and opposition circles. Some of them have accused Russia of betraying its main ally in the region.
“I believe that Russia, like any other state, has its national strategic interests,” Baghdasarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Russia has relations with Azerbaijan and builds them on the basis of its interests. So the strategic partnership [with Armenia] has nothing to do with that.”
The official also implied in that context that Armenia will still be able to maintain the military balance with Azerbaijan thanks to continued Russian arms supplies. “The Republic of Armenia adopted … a state program for acquisitions of weapons and military hardware several years ago,” he said. “Modern, state-of-the-art weapons and military hardware are imported to Armenia. So we should not panic about Azerbaijan’s buying of some military hardware from Russia. They also buy military hardware from other countries.”
The five-year program cited by Baghdasarian was approved by the Sarkisian administration in late 2010 following the signing of a major Russian-Armenian defense accord. The deal extended Russian military presence in Armenia until 2044 and committed Moscow to helping the Armenian military obtain “modern weaponry and special military hardware.”
Baghdasarian revealed that another Russian-Armenian agreement will be signed during the upcoming visit to Yerevan by his Russian opposite number, Nikolay Patrushev. “We are going to discuss a wide range of issues of bilateral cooperation, very concrete issues that are significantly connected with strengthening Armenia’s security,” he said. “I think we will have very good results.”
“That will also cover the military sphere. We will sign very important documents,” he added without going into details.