By Nazrin Gadimova
Azerbaijan has voiced its concerns over Russia's approval of a $200 million loan to Armenia for the purchase of Russian-made military equipment. The country's Foreign Ministry said that Armenia can use these weapons in the occupied territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and on the Azerbaijani borders with Armenia.
The ministry sent a note of protest to Russia on February 24, demanding from Russia to give guarantees on the non-use of the military equipment on the occupied Azerbaijani territories, as well as along the Azerbaijan-Armenia border.
“Azerbaijan has repeatedly brought to the attention of the international community irrefutable facts that the weapons and military equipment purchased by Armenia are dislocated in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region,” the note of protest reads.
By placing these weapons in the occupied territories without the consent of the exporting country [Russia], Armenia thus grossly violates its international legal obligations, as well as the regime and transparent of the arms control, Hikmet Hajiyev, ministry’s spokesperson believes.
It means that Armenia is strengthening its military presence in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, Hajiyev said.
Following the agreement, Russia will provide Armenia with $200 million loan for the purchase of Russian-made military equipment. Yerevan is going to buy BM-30 Smerch (heavy multiple rocket launcher), SA-18 Grouse (man-portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile), TOS-1 (multiple rocket launcher), electronic intelligence systems, GAZ Tigr (multipurpose, all-terrain infantry mobility vehicle), as well as guided missiles, grenade launchers and sniper rifles.
Sale of military equipment to Armenia is a proof of double standards and an attempt to disrupt stability in the region.
Commenting on the situation, Russian Foreign Ministry representative Maria Zakharova, said Russia makes deliveries of military equipment both in Armenia and in friendly Azerbaijan taking into account the importance of preserving stability in the region.
Before, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ali Ahmadov condemned the move, regarding it as a manifestation of double standards.
Ahmadov believes that the sale of weapons to Armenia is another step to disrupt stability and increase the tension in South Caucasus. In some cases, Russia sells military equipment at a very low price, under the pretext that Armenia is a CSTO member, he added.
"We have always condemned such steps and today we also condemn it,” the deputy prime minister said. "If this continues, then there will be a need to increase efforts to ensure peace and stability in the South Caucasus.”
Baku has repeatedly stated that Armenia carries out illegal activities, including drug trafficking in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including Nagorno-Karabakh. Moreover, Armenia shelters representatives of various terrorist organizations, including the PKK on these territories, and this causes damage to the national security, but also has a negative impact on regional security.
Armenia captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions from Azerbaijan in a war that followed the Soviet breakup in 1991. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and nearly 1 million were displaced as a result of the war.
The peace talks have been largely fruitless so far despite the efforts of the co-chair countries over 20 years.
Nazrin Gadimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @NazrinGadimova
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz