A senior Azerbaijani official has reportedly expressed hope that Russia will solidify its status as Azerbaijan’s number one supplier of weapons and military hardware.
The Itar-Tass news agency quoted Azad Mammadov, an aide to Azerbaijan’s minister of defense industry, as saying on Thursday that Baku is looking forward to the participation of Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, in an international arms exhibition that will take place in the Azerbaijani capital in September.
“We hope that our contacts with Rosoboronexport will reach a new level during the ADEX-2014 military-technical exhibition in Baku,” he said.
Mammadov emphasized that Russia has already sold Azerbaijan more weapons than any other country, including Turkey. He listed sophisticated Russian tanks, armored vehicles, artillery systems and attack helicopters supplied to Azerbaijan’s armed forces. Azerbaijan has also started the licensed manufacturing of Russian-designed AK-74M assault rifles, the official said.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in August that the total volume of Russian-Azerbaijani defense contracts is “measured at $4 billion and tends to grow further.” He spoke two months after it emerged that Russia has begun delivering $1 billion worth of offensive weaponry, including about 100 tanks, to the Azerbaijani army.
The disclosed supplies raised eyebrows in Armenia, with local politicians and pundits accusing Moscow of acting against the spirit of the Russian-Armenian military alliance. Russian security officials dismissed the criticism.
General Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian army’s General Staff, signaled Moscow’s readiness to sell more weapons to Azerbaijan when he visited Baku earlier this month. Gerasimov told Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov that “there are prospects for stepping up” bilateral military-technical cooperation.