Announcements to Armenia, Weapons to Azerbaijan

The developments in the Russian-Azerbaijani relations in Karabakh context show that, despite disagreements over some issues, Moscow and Baku still continue a more profound and genuine cooperation.

In particular, developments in January already indicate that Russia and Azerbaijan are closely working on arms supplies, meanwhile bypassing challenges and difficulties arising.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his most recent press conference, commenting on the December 29 incident in the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the Karabakh issue settlement in general, had made a number of statements that seemed to stir concerns in Baku and promised to cause tension between Moscow and Baku. In particular, Lavrov referred to Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders’ agreements in Vienna and St. Petersburg, concerning mechanisms to investigate incidents at contact line and expanding the OSCE mission, as well as had announced that the Karabakh conflict is not abstract and is not purely an internal matter of Azerbaijan.

The seeming tension in Russian-Azerbaijani relations was also showcased by the fact that after the December 29 subversive attack by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, the CSTO displayed unusual responsiveness, with its Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha condemning the incident and using the “Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh” sensitive term for Baku.

All of this, of course, made an impression that Russia applies the “stick against Azerbaijan,” speaking in favor of Armenian interests. However, almost the same time, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan reached agreements with Russia for supply of the next batch of weapons.

Aliyev’s statement, as well as Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov’s visit to Moscow the next day (Russia’s invitation), showed that the “stick” could actually be a purely demonstrative action. It is known that after the April war unleashed by the Azerbaijan, Russia’s arming of Azerbaijan is very negatively perceived by Armenia’s government and public. However, by providing favorable information background (in form of Sergey Lavrov’s conference), Moscow, in fact, found a suitable moment to reveal the supply of new batch of weapons, even if it was just through Aliyev.

All this shows that while Armenian experts are busy deciphering Lavrov’s words, relations between Moscow and Baku are more tangible and can once again manifest themselves in the form of a military-trade deal.

This situation for Armenia only means that just like before, standing by Armenia’s side remains an ally arming the enemy, regardless of the accompanying speeches. Also, it may actually serve as a direct warning that from time to time the Armenian side may be provided with seeming “carrots,” followed by a non-direct but very worrisome “Sticks.”

Vahe Ghukasyan

Union of Informed Citizens


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