By selling weapons to Azerbaijan countries encourage its aggressive policies, acting Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in his November 20 press conference, day after Belarus and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding outlining plans for fresh weapons sales.
Azerbaijan “has threatened to capture Armenia’s capital. By selling weapons to this country you want to encourage, to assist their desires and expect us to say nothing?” Pashinyan asked rhetorically, when discussing the recent terse exchanges with Belarus in the context of disagreements within the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
In the last decade, Belarus became one of the top weapons suppliers to Azerbaijan, behind only Russia, Israel and Turkey. Last June, Azerbaijan took delivery of long-range Chinese-manufactured missiles branded in Belarus as Polonez. Belarus previously sold Azerbaijan armor, artillery, Su-25 jets and air defense systems.
Pashinyan also criticized his predecessors in government for not doing enough to hamper Azerbaijan’s militarization.
Occasionally, the government of Serzh Sargsyan did criticize weapons sales to Azerbaijan by CSTO partners. Since 2013, when Armenia announced plans to join the Eurasian Economic Union and shelved its pending agreement with the European Union, Russia curtailed its sales to Azerbaijan, though it continued to fulfill orders made earlier, including large-scale deliveries of armor, artillery and air defense systems.
In February 2018, reports suggested that Armenia managed to stop the Polonez deal, but missiles showed up in Azerbaijan shortly after the change of government in Armenia in May. Pashinyan initially ignored the delivery.
At the same time, Azerbaijan acquired longer-range LORA missiles from Israel. Like Sargsyan before him, Pashinyan has not publicly reacted to Israeli sales. In Israel itself, weapons sales to Azerbaijan have been a matter of some political and legal controversy.
The article was originally published on Focus on Karabakh, a project of the USC Insitute of Armenian Studies