Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry responded to the passage of an amendment by the U.S. House of Representatives introduced by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) to block the transfer of U.S. defense articles to Baku that could potentially be used by the Azerbaijani government to act upon its threat to shoot down civilian aircraft operating out of Artsakh’s Stepanakert Airport.
While telling the Trend news agency that it was surprised by the initiative, Azerbaijan’s defense ministry boasted that its military capabilities were sufficient to retaliate against any air attack, thus legitimizing Sherman’s concern that Baku could fire at civilian aircraft.
“The air defense systems of various types owned by the Azerbaijan Air Force, are capable of ensuring full protection of our airspace, and in case of a threat, take retaliatory measures,” the ministry told Turan.
“The United States never sold us weapons,” the ministry said. “Despite this, Azerbaijan buys weapons and military equipment in sufficient quantities from countries that have world-class advanced military technology.”
“In addition, the congressman should be aware that Nagorno-Karabakh is the territory of Azerbaijan and, since it is a conflict zone, the International Civil Aviation Organization completely banned civil aviation flights in this direction long ago,” the ministry added.
“I would point out that the Stepanakert Airport is located in the Republic of Artsakh, previously known as the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, and historically Armenian territory that was lumped in with Azerbaijan by no less than Joseph Stalin in a deliberate effort to create ethnic tensions in the Caucuses to the benefit of the Soviet Union and in an effort to punish the Armenian people,” explained Sherman during remarks on the House floor on Thursday. ‘
“The people of Artsakh established their independence decades ago and whatever your view as to the status of that territory, you should support this amendment, unless you believe it is appropriate to shoot down civilian aircraft. I urge my colleagues to support the amendment and I reserve the balance of my time,” added Sherman.