YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia is mindful about large-scale sales of Russian weapons to Azerbaijan and is trying to counter them with its own military buildup, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said on Friday.
Ohanian commented on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s claims that the volume of Russian-Azerbaijani defense contracts signed in recent years has reached $4 billion. Aliyev made the statement after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin held in Baku earlier this week.
“Of course, we are somewhat concerned about the [Azerbaijani] military buildup,” Ohanian told reporters. “But the figures that are cited are a bit unreal … Nevertheless, we need to take into account that Azerbaijani reality. We are aware of all that.”
“Of course, that is not quite good for us. But we have planned measures against that and our commander-in-chief, the president of the republic, is seriously thinking about that,” he said without going into details.
Ohanian reacted similarly after it emerged in June that Russia has begun delivering $1 billion worth of tanks, rockets and other offensive weapons to Azerbaijan. He indicated that close military ties with Moscow will help Yerevan offset those deliveries. In that regard, the minister referred to a Russian-Armenian agreement on military-technical cooperation which he and Aleksandr Fomin, the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, signed in Yerevan on June 25.
Incidentally, Fomin again visited Yerevan and met with Ohanian and President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday. The Armenian Defense Ministry said that the two sides fleshed out plans to set up joint “centers for the repair and maintenance of military hardware and weapons” in Armenia.