Nikolay Bordyuzha, the secretary general of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on Tuesday dismissed Azerbaijan’s threats to shoot down civilian aircraft that would fly from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh without its permission.
“I view Azerbaijan as a civilized state that adheres to universal norms,” he said during a visit to Yerevan. “I very much doubt that the leadership of any contemporary country can … order a deliberate destruction of civilian planes … I don’t take that information seriously.”
Bordyuzha recalled in that regard an international outcry that was triggered by the 1983 downing of a South Korean commercial airliner by Soviet fighter jets. The Soviet Union defended the deadly action at the time, saying that the plane carrying over 250 passengers flew over its airspace without permission and did not respond to communication.
Azerbaijan says that the planned launch of commercial flights from Yerevan to Stepanakert would breach its internationally recognized sovereignty over Karabakh and that it therefore has every right to forcibly halt them. Earlier this month the authorities in Baku formally authorized the Azerbaijani military to shoot down such aircraft.
Armenia and Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership have condemned those threats, saying that they run counter to international law. They have said that Armenian air-defense forces would successfully counter possible Azerbaijani attempts to attack civilian aircraft flying over Karabakh.
Bordyuzha has indicated before that Armenia, which is a member of the CSTO, can count on support from the Russian-led military pact of six ex-Soviet states in the event of another war with Azerbaijan.
Bordyuzha spoke to journalists on Tuesday after signing with Artur Baghdasarian, secretary of Armenia’s National Security Council, new agreements aimed at cementing Russian-Armenian military cooperation within the CSTO framework.