BAKU (RFE/RL) — Azerbaijan has protested against the sale of more Russian weapons to Armenia that will be financed by a $200 million Russian loan allocated to Yerevan last year.
The Russian government publicized on Friday a corresponding Russian-Armenian loan agreement signed in June 2015. The agreement contains a long list of defense items which Yerevan will be able to purchase from Russian manufacturers by the end of 2017. Among them are multiple-launch rocket systems with a 90-kilometer firing range, heavy flamethrowers and advanced anti-tank missiles.
Commenting on the disclosure, an Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hikmet Hajiyev, said on Wednesday that Baku has sent a protest note to Moscow in connection the Russian-Armenian arms deal. According to the Trend news agency, Hajiyev said the planned deliveries are illegal because Armenia deploys many of its weapons in “Azerbaijan’s separatist region of Karabakh.”
Azerbaijan itself has purchased at least $4 billion worth of offensive weapons from Russia since 2010 as part of a massive military buildup which it hopes will eventually help it regain control over Karabakh and Armenian-controlled districts surrounding it. Those acquisitions included about 100 T-90 tanks as well as dozens of Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems and TOS-1A flamethrowers.
Smerchs and TOS-1As are also on the publicized list of the items to be purchased for the Armenian military. The Russian-Armenian agreement does not specify their quantities.
Unlike Azerbaijan, Yerevan is entitled to buying Russian-manufactured armaments at domestic Russian prices that are well below international market-based levels. Armenia has already acquired substantial quantities of such weapons over the past two decades owing to its military alliance with Russia and membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.