Azerbaijan wants to buy more Russian weapons and is now negotiating with Russia for that purpose, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Thursday.
“We are holding negotiations on new [arms] purchases,” Aliyev told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “You know better just how developed the Russian defense industry is.”
“We are mainly interested in the most advanced defense weaponry, new equipment,” he said. “This includes helicopters and defense systems, the whole complex. It’s a permanent process.”
Russia has already sold around $5 billion worth of tanks, artillery systems and other weapons to Azerbaijan in line with defense contracts signed in 2009-2011. Armenian leaders renewed and stepped up their criticism of those arms deals following last April’s Azerbaijani offensive in Nagorno-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.
In August, Russian President Vladimir Putin similarly dismissed a widely held belief in Armenia that Moscow has only increased the risk of another Karabakh war with its large-scale arms sales to Baku. Speaking after talks in the Kremlin with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian, he implied that oil-rich Azerbaijan could have purchased offensive weapons from other nations.
Putin also argued that Russia has long been providing substantial military aid to Armenia, its main regional ally.
Armenia demonstrated new weapons recently acquired from Russia during a September military parade in Yerevan. Those included Iskander ballistic missiles. Sarkisian subsequently described the state-of-the-art missiles as a further deterrent against Azerbaijan’s possible attempts to achieve a military solution to the Karabakh conflict.