The United States has reportedly refused to sell military vehicles to Azerbaijan because of the unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Baku-based APA news agency reported this week that the Azerbaijani government offered to buy some of the Humvee and Cougar vehicles used by U.S. troops in Afghanistan but was rebuffed by Washington. Citing unnamed military sources, it said the U.S. military pointed to a long-running U.S. arms embargo on all parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The Pentagon announced earlier this summer that about half of the military vehicles will be sold to friendly nations or disposed of otherwise during the ongoing U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is due to be completed by the end of 2016. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have contributed small military contingents to the NATO-led multinational mission in Afghanistan as part of their cooperation with the U.S. war on terror.
That cooperation explains why the U.S. has provided modest and virtually identical amounts of military assistance to the two South Caucasus states since the September 2011 terrorist attacks in America. None of that aid has involved offensive weapons that could change the military balance in the Karabakh dispute. In particular, the Armenian army has mainly received modern communication and demining equipment.
Successive U.S. administrations have pressed for a solely peaceful resolution of the conflict. “This conflict has no military solution,” John Heffern, the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, said on his video blog on Wednesday.
Heffern reiterated U.S. concerns about a recent escalation of fighting around Karabakh and on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and urged both sides to defuse tensions and hold “serious negotiations.” “Threats and tough rhetoric are not helpful,” he said in Armenian.
Russia and France -- the two other mediating powers -- also advocate a peaceful settlement. Moscow has at the same time supplied billions of dollars worth of weapons to Armenia, its main regional ally, and Azerbaijan. Baku has also bought large quantities of military hardware from Israel, Turkey and Belarus.
APA did not specify the number of Humvee and Cougar vehicles which the Azerbaijani side was willing to buy. The vehicles are often fitted with machine guns and anti-tank missile launchers.