Pro-government and opposition members of Armenia’s parliament protested against ongoing Russian arms deliveries to Azerbaijan at a meeting with their Russian colleagues held in Yerevan on Wednesday.
The lawmakers met in the Armenian capital for a session of a committee on defense and security of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance of six ex-Soviet states.
Khosrov Harutiunian, who coordinated the meeting, said he and other Armenian members of the committee, pointed to the fact that Russia as well as Belarus have been selling large amounts of weaponry to Armenia’s arch-foe Azerbaijan. “During today’s meeting an issue was raised to the effect that whether it’s time to work out a legal mechanism that would prevent such supplies in the future,” he told a joint news conference with Anatoly Vyborny, the Russian chairman of the committee.
“The discussion on the issue was very heated, without any cosmetic formulations, and nobody tried to skirt the issue” Vyborny said for his part. “There is a problem. We see it and are now discussing the most appropriate and effective way of solving it.”
The Armenian complaints applied to recent reports, confirmed by Russian officials, that Moscow began supplying the Azerbaijan last May with $1 billion worth of tanks, artillery systems and other offensive weapons in accordance with defense contracts signed two years ago. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said afterwards that Baku plans to buy more Russian military hardware.
The reports caused an uproar in Armenia, with local politicians, media commentators and other pundits accusing Russia of weakening the Armenian side in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and thus betraying its main regional ally. The Armenian government refrained from publicly criticizing the Russians, however. Officials in Yerevan implied that the arms sales to Baku will be offset by continued Russian military assistance to Armenia.