War between Russia and Ukraine: which side is Azerbaijan on?
Azerbaijan and Russian-Ukrainian war
Despite the declaration on allied declaration which Azerbaijan signed with Russia on the eve of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, officially took a neutral position regarding the war between the two countries. At the same time, all media outlets controlled by Azerbaijani authorities support the position of Kyiv. JAMnews tried to find out the reasons for this behavior of the Azerbaijani government.
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Allied cooperation with Russia and friendship with Ukraine
On the eve of Russia’s recognition of the independence of the “DPR” and “LPR”, which international law recognises as an integral part of Ukraine, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a declaration on allied cooperation in the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, in January 2022, Ilham Aliyev paid an official visit to Kyiv, where the presidents of Azerbaijan and Ukraine signed interstate documents and confirmed their positions on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the two friendly countries.
After the start of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, the Azerbaijani authorities did not make official statements. Neither the President nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made direct statements on the intervention of the Russian army in Ukraine. Only the assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, Hikmet Hajiyev, stated the importance of resolving the conflict between Russia and Ukraine through negotiations and diplomatic steps. “Azerbaijan has always adhered and continues to adhere to international legal norms. First of all, this concerns the sovereignty of countries and their territorial integrity”, Hajiyev said.
Humanitarian aid to Ukraine and solidarity rallies
On the second day after the start of hostilities in Ukraine, Azerbaijan announced the dispatch of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. On the evening of February 25, two planes of the Azerbaijani Silk Way airline took off in the direction of Ukraine with food and medical assistance.
Immediately after that, the Azerbaijani State Oil Company (SOCAR) announced that all vehicles of Ukraine’s social services (ambulance, fire service, etc.) can receive fuel free of charge at SOCAR gas stations in Ukraine. This company has 59 gas stations throughout Ukraine.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky expressed gratitude to the President of Azerbaijan for the provided assistance.
On Sunday, February 27, a crowded rally in support of Ukraine was held in front of the Ukrainian Embassy in Baku. A collection of humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people was also organized at the location of the rally. The collection will continue until March 9th.
Today, on March 1, a picket in support of Ukraine has been held in front of the Russian Embassy in Baku. The picket was organized by the unregistered opposition Democracy and Prosperity party.
Meanwhile, Fuad Muradov, a well-known pro-government blogger in Azerbaijan, announced on social networks a rally in support of the Russian people on March 3 in front of the Russian embassy. Interestingly, the Ukrainian national flag flaunts on the blogger’s profile picture on Facebook.
According to political observer Rasim Mirzoev, the position of the Azerbaijani authorities in relation to the war in Ukraine is not difficult to explain.
“Yes, Azerbaijan has signed a declaration of alliance with Russia. But we must not forget about the Turkish factor. This country, a NATO member, is trying to call on the parties to the conflict to a diplomatic solution, and has repeatedly offered a platform for negotiations in recent days. Turkey is Azerbaijan’s primary ally. Even if our country has several different allies, fraternal relations with Turkey cannot be compared with them.
There is also the British factor. We all know that the British oil company BP is engaged in oil and gas production in the Caspian. The same company is one of the main shareholders of the Southern Gas Corridor linking Azerbaijan, Turkey and European countries. Aliyev’s personal relations with Great Britain are also important from this point of view.
For these reasons, Azerbaijan is obliged to support Ukraine in this war. The country is also guided by international law in this. Both Crimea and the self-proclaimed republics of Donbass, unrecognized by anyone but Russia, are an integral part of Ukraine. Azerbaijan was also guided by this principle during the liberation from the occupation of Karabakh.
As for official statements, the fact that almost all Azerbaijani media, which, as everyone knows, are under the direct control of the state, in every possible way support the authorities and people of Ukraine, speaks volumes. This is an unambiguous support for this country in the conflict”, Mirzoev said in an interview with JAMnews.
“The world and the post-Soviet space are changing. The European Union accepts Ukraine as its member, and, after the war in Ukraine in the post-Soviet space, two countries will face democratic changes – Belarus and Azerbaijan.
We have always said that the Aliyev government is not afraid of Putin. On the contrary, Putin has always patronized them. Aliyev and his entourage were afraid of changing geopolitical conditions and the post-Putin period. And that time is already coming. All the best to our country”, Azer Gasimly, director of the Institute of Political Management, wrote on social media.