Azerbaijan has essentially completed large-scale acquisitions of weapons for its armed force which began more than a decade ago, President Ilham Aliyev said on Friday.
“We have practically finished the process of rearmament of our army,” he told the official Russian TASS news agency. “Today our army is equipped with the most sophisticated and precision-guided offensive and defensive weaponry.
“We buy weapons from the world’s best manufacturers. The acquired weapons make us self-confident.”
“Further arms purchases will have a more selective and concrete nature and be aimed at solving one or another issue,” Aliyev added without elaborating.
Baku embarked on a massive military buildup in the early 2000s as it started earning billions of dollars in annual oil revenue. Russia, Israel and Turkey have been its main suppliers.
Russia alone has sold an estimated $5 billion worth of various weapons to Azerbaijan in the last several years, prompting criticism from Armenia, its main regional ally locked with Baku in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian leaders say those arms supplies contributed to the April 2016 fighting in Karabakh which nearly escalated into an all-out war.
Speaking to TASS, Aliyev again blamed Armenia for the lack of decisive progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. He said Yerevan is “doing everything” to maintain the status quo.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian claimed the opposite in a newspaper interview published on Friday. He blamed the deadlock on Baku’s “maximalist” position on the conflict.
Aliyev and Sarkisian pledged to reinvigorate the Karabakh peace process when they last met in Geneva last October. Their foreign ministers held follow-up talks in December and January.