Armenia played down on Wednesday media reports that Russia has begun delivering $1 billion worth of tanks and other military hardware to Azerbaijan, saying that Baku will not gain a decisive military advantage in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Citing Russian defense industry sources, the Moscow daily “Vedomosti” reported on Tuesday that the Azerbaijani military is to receive over 90 T-90C tanks, around 100 armored personnel carriers and dozens of multiple-rocket systems and artillery cannons in accordance with defense contracts signed in 2011 and 2012.
Reuters quoted a source at the Russian Defense Ministry as effectively confirming the information. However Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport has not yet commented on it.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said it will not comment on the reports because it believes they contain “some elements of disinformation.” Its spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, did not elaborate.
Hovannisian said only that Yerevan is aware of all Azerbaijani arms acquisitions. “The types and quantity of equipment that is being sold [to Azerbaijan] does not breach the military balance and does not create prerequisites for the Azerbaijani leadership to carry out a military aggression against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The reported Russian arms deliveries raised eyebrows in Armenian media and opposition circles, however, with some critics accusing Russia of betraying its main ally in the region. Russia already faced similar criticism when it sold sophisticated S-300 air-defense systems to Azerbaijan in 2010.
Moscow is believed to have at the same time delivered substantial quantities of heavy weaponry to the Armenian army at knockdown prices or even for free since then. Artashes Geghamian, an Armenian pro-government parliamentarian, said late last month that as many as 120 planeloads of Russian weapons have been transported to Armenia over the past year alone.
Russia also appears to have bolstered its military base headquartered in Gyumri with contract soldiers and modern weapons. A military source in Yerevan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) earlier this month that those included Iskander-M ballistic missiles, one of the most advanced in the world.