MOSCOW (RFE/RL) — Russia dismissed on Thursday Azerbaijani protests against its decision to sell $200 million worth of more Russian-manufactured weapons to Armenia.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that it has sent a protest note to Moscow in connection with the arms deal that will be financed with a $200 million Russian loan allocated to Yerevan last year.
“We have already made it clear to the Azerbaijani side through diplomatic channels that Russia is bound by an alliance with Armenia and is developing with it military-technical cooperation among other things,” said Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.
“This is a well-known fact, and we are managing that cooperation without hiding it, in a transparent and open manner. We hope that Azerbaijan will show understanding for this fact,” Zakharova told a news briefing in Moscow.
“We carry out any supplies of weapons to Armenia as well as friendly Azerbaijan with a meticulous consideration of the need to maintain the balance of forces in the region,” she added, according to the TASS news agency.
Zakharova appeared to allude to the fact that Russia has sold more than $4 billion worth of mostly offensive weapons to Azerbaijan in the last several years. Those arms deliveries prompted criticism from Armenia’s government, political parties and media. Some of them have accused Moscow of thereby undercutting Armenia, Russia’s main regional ally, in the dispute with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The latest Russian-Armenian arms deal has been construed by some analysts as a Russian attempt to placate the Armenians.
The Russian government disclosed late last week a long list of items which the Armenian military will be able to acquire with the Russian loan by the end of 2017. They include devastating multiple-launch rocket systems, flamethrower systems, anti-tank rockets and communication equipment.