A senior official in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday warned Russia against selling more weapons to Azerbaijan, saying that they would increase the risk of renewed fighting between Karabakh Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.
“They should understand in Moscow that Russian weapons sold to Azerbaijan are used against Armenian civilian settlements,” said Davit Babayan, the spokesman for Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president.
The Russian ambassador to Azerbaijan, Vladimir Dorokhin, said over the weekend that Moscow intends to sign fresh defense contracts with Baku soon. But he did not specify the types of Russian weaponry that could be delivered to the Azerbaijani military.
“This cannot fail to worry the Armenian side and Artsakh (Karabakh) in particular,” Babayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We believe that they must not sign arms contracts with a country like Azerbaijan.”
Russia has already sold at least $4billion worth of tanks, artillery systems and other offensive weapons to Azerbaijan in the last several years. Armenian leaders renewed and stepped up their criticism of those arms deals following the April 2 Azerbaijani offensive in Karabakh.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev rejected the Armenian criticism after visiting Yerevan later in April. He said that that Russia delivers weapons to both Armenia and Azerbaijan and thereby sustains the “military balance” in the Karabakh conflict.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu signaled Moscow’s readiness to sell more weapons to Baku when he met with his visiting Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov last month. Shoygu said he would be “happy” to see an Azerbaijani delegation at an arms exhibition which the Russian military will hold in September.