TBILISI — The APM Terminals Poti company confirmed to the Georgian service of Radio Liberty the transit of French weapons to Armenia through the port of Poti. According to media reports, the shipment includes Bastion multi-purpose armored vehicles.
“In this particular case, the cargo arrived from an EU country – France and was sent to Armenia – a country that is not subject to sanctions,” the company operating the port of Poti said in a statement. “In addition, in the absence of clear instructions from the Government of Georgia and restrictions imposed by international regulators, APM Terminals Poti is deprived of the ability to unreasonably refuse to accept cargo that is not sanctioned.”
Earlier, Azerbaijan “strongly condemned” France’s shipment of Bastion armored vehicles to Armenia, said Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aykhan Hajizadeh. The Azerbaijani portal Caliber.Az reported that on the night of November 11-12, Bastion armored vehicles manufactured by ACMAT were shipped to the port of Poti. “Components for Bastion have also been sent – the sender is the French company ARQUUS,” the message said.
Caliber.Az wrote that “military equipment sent by France for Armenia is moving through Georgia towards the Georgian-Armenian border,” noting that “Georgia has long refused the transit of French weapons to Armenia, but now, apparently, official Tbilisi has given consent.”
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry called on the international community to “refrain from arming Armenia, known for its aggressive policies and actions.”
“The transfer of the above-mentioned military equipment will serve to strengthen the destructive activities in the region and the military potential of Armenia, which for almost 30 years has kept part of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan under occupation and currently does not abandon aggressive policies and rhetoric. These steps by France, which positions itself as a promoter of international law and a supporter of peace and stability in the region, seriously question efforts to normalize relations in the region on the basis of mutual recognition and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and international borders of states and serve to aggravate the situation. Against the background of France’s smear campaign against Azerbaijan and destructive activities in the region, these steps, which serve the policy of militarization of Armenia, indicate that France is guided by misguided interests in the region. Armenia and France must put an end to the policy of armament and militarization in the region; these countries must finally understand that there is no alternative to peace and cooperation in the region,” Baku said.
The French publication Ouest France writes that the “Bastions” were originally intended for Ukraine, but in Kiev, they were considered too poorly protected from artillery fire and anti-tank missiles.
Georgian official departments do not comment on information about the supply of French military equipment. The Armenian media inquired about the position of the Armenian Ministry of Defense. “Other than official reports and statements on cooperation between Armenia and France in the field of defense, we currently cannot provide any additional information,” the Armenian department said.