By Rashid Shirinov
Recently the Armenian government approved a draft new agreement with Russia which envisages granting of a defense loan in the amount of $100 million.
The draft agreement stipulates that the Russian side will provide Yerevan with state export credit for financing the supplies of military products of Russian production. The loan with the term of use from 2018 to 2022 will be issued with a maturity of 15 years at 3 percent per annum.
Earlier, in June 2015, the countries signed an agreement granting Russia’s state export loan of $200 million to Armenia for the acquisition of military goods of Russian production. Within the credit, Armenia acquires Russian multiple rocket launchers Smerch, anti-aircraft missile complexes Igla-S, complexes of electronic intelligence Avtobaza-M, heavy flamethrower systems TOS-1A and other weapons.
By pursuing such a policy in the South Caucasus, Russia violates its obligations as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is mediating in resolving of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Given the highly complicated situation in the region, it would be better on the part of Russia to seek for a peaceful solution of the Karabakh problem, to force Armenia to abandon its aggressive policy, and to take steps for effective process to change the current status quo in the conflict zone.
Obviously, such a step taken by Moscow indeed threatens security in the region and deals a blow to the principles of friendship, good neighborliness and strategic partnership of Russia and Azerbaijan.
Logically, many international experts have already condemned Russia’s decision to supply Armenia with this loan.
American political expert Peter Tase believes that the purchase of advanced weapons by the Armenian government is surely a threat to peace and stability in Europe.
Such an attitude will further instigate armed clashes in the line of contact, result in more innocent Azerbaijani civilians being killed by the very same weapons, as well as harm the socio-economic environment in the Caucasus region, , he told Trend on October 14.
Nathalie Goulet, French senator and vice-chair of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, in turn noted that Russia’s weapon delivery to Armenia is a breach of trust, and it is also a breach of the Russian position as the OSCE Minsk co-chair.
“We do not need a new front in South Caucasus. We need to build the trust. We do not need foreign interferences. It is really not the right time,” she added.
Ariel Cohen, senior fellow at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security, has also commented on the issue. He told Trend that in the long term, concerning the money, Armenia will not be able to compete with Azerbaijan in terms of the quantity and quality of weapons Baku is purchasing. The expert also pointed out that it is time to consider a solution to the conflict and not waste money on weapons.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continues for more than two decades and the constant arming of the conflicting sides does not contribute to the peaceful settlement of the conflict but, vice versa, delays it.
Given the level and intensity of bilateral relations, Azerbaijan expects from Russia more measured and deliberate steps, which correspond to its status of mediator in the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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