Armenia against arms sales to Azerbaijan by military bloc allies
The issue of arms sales to Azerbaijan by countries in the Collective Security Treaty Organization has again been discussed in Armenia.
On November 5, a meeting of heads of the parliaments of the CSTO member states began in Yerevan.
This is a military bloc that operates under the leadership of Russia and which includes Armenia. This is not the first time that the Armenian side has raised the issue of the inadmissibility of arms sales to Azerbaijan: a country that is not a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and has a military conflict with Armenia.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization is a regional international structure operating under the auspices of Russia. As stated in the charter of the CSTO, its goals are “the strengthening of peace, international and regional security and stability, the collective defense of the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of member states”. The organization was created in 1992, immediately after the collapse of the USSR. Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan very soon left the CSTO. Now its six members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.
“Armenia always raises the issue of arms sales to Azerbaijan”
Deputy Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Alen Simonyan stated that Armenia always raises the issue of arms sales by the CSTO member countries to Azerbaijan and is trying to resolve this issue.
Moreover, when asked whether the Armenian MPs asked their Russian or Belarusian colleagues about why their countries were selling weapons to Azerbaijan, Simonyan replied that the Armenian delegation has not discussed a single other question as much as this one, but there is no solution as of yet, despite the fact that the Prime Minister of Armenia raised the issue.
“They tell us: if it weren’t Russia that sold weapons, then someone else would sell, and Armenia would receive the same weapons from Russia at discounted prices. For me personally, this is not an answer”, said Simonyan.
Former Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutyunyan said the sale of arms to Azerbaijan was “a serious problem.
“This is a serious problem, because the CSTO is based on the principle that “a threat to one state is a threat to all. Therefore, states should not take steps against the security of the State party.”
In his opinion, “there is a problem, it is necessary to talk about it and seek a solution.”
Andranik Kocharian, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Defense and Security, considers Russia’s sale of arms to Azerbaijan a “bad phenomenon.”
“This is very bad, but do not forget that our Armed Forces are also equipped with similar weapons and the task is to achieve peace. The question of maintaining a balance of forces is always there and the enemy should not have advantages in types of weapons.
“It is often discussed now that [the Azerbaijani] budget has more defense contributions than ours. But we forget that their Armed forces have a different structure. The balance is not upset, Azerbaijan just buys more weapons.”
• Yerevan says it’s ready to block any rapprochement by Baku with Russian military bloc
The response of the Russian side
According to the MP of the State Duma Leonid Kalashnikov, this issue “is not within the competence” of the parliamentary assembly, which operates in Yerevan:
“We are having a meeting of the Council of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly. That is, this is a meeting of representatives of the parliaments of the CSTO member countries, and such issues are not part of our competency. To answer this question, you should turn to the direct military leadership of the CSTO.”
In addition, as Leonid Kalashnikov noted, concerns about the sale of weapons by Russia are expressed not only in Armenia, but also in Azerbaijan. According to him, this is due to the fact that Russia provides Armenia with the most modern weapons, which are often not provided to other countries.
The issue of shelling on the border of Armenia with Azerbaijan was also discussed.
Last week, tension increased in the northeastern section of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Konstantin Zatulin, a deputy of the Russian Duma, said that this issue was discussed at a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly.
Zatulin said: if Yerevan considers it necessary to discuss the problem of the shelling of its territory by Azerbaijan, then it has the right to do this within the framework of the meetings of the Collective Security Treaty Organization:
“But I did not hear that official Yerevan included this issue on the agenda of discussions,” the State Duma deputy noted.
Zatulin emphasized that Russia sees Armenia as its ally, and with a real threat, Moscow is ready to launch CSTO mechanisms to protect it.
“I want to remind you that the Russian 102nd military base is located on the territory of Armenia, which is not located here for beauty,” the MP concluded.
Konstantin Zatulin stated that the strengthening of the 102nd military base in Gyumri shows that Russia is not going to abandon its allied obligations to Armenia.
This statement was made against the backdrop of recent talks that the power and combat potential of the 102nd Russian military base deployed in the Armenian city of Gyumri will almost double.
This topic was discussed in Yerevan on October 29 at a meeting of the defense ministers of Armenia and Russia.
According to Zatulin, many believe that the activities of the Russian base in Gyumri are a guarantee of the security of Armenia.
“It seems to me that by signing an agreement on strengthening the military base we are showing everyone that Russia is not going to abandon its obligations towards Armenia. As, in fact, in the case of the operation in Syria, where we paid special attention to the well-being of the Armenian population of the Syrian settlement of Kamyshly and separately discussed these issues with Turkey,” the MP said.
Why Armenia is not demanding bloc support to protect the border
When asked why the Armenian side is not demanding the intervention of the bloc when there is tension on the border of Armenia with Azerbaijan, the chairman of the parliamentary commission on defense and security Andranik Kocharian answered:
“The current state of the Armed Forces of Armenia dictates that they can rely on their own forces.”
The Prime Minister of Armenia now calls the Collective Security Treaty Organization the main regional factor of stability and security.
He said this during a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly on November 5. Pashinyan identified three dimensions of cooperation within the organization:
“First of all, this is foreign policy coordination, this is military and military-technical cooperation, and, of course, security cooperation and an approach to our common threats. Threats are changing, and the organization must comply with them.”
This statement is interesting because while Nikol Pashinyan was an opposition MP, he opposed Armenia’s membership in the CSTO.