Russia will continue selling weapons to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, despite the recent violence in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said, independent Ekho Moskvy radio reported Tuesday.
He claimed that arms trade with the two nations was a way to keep American and NATO forces out of the region, and would serve as a deterrent, Ekho Moskvy reported.
A long-running conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region suffered a new surge in violence earlier this month.
Turkey — a close ally of Azerbaijan — has recently accused Russia of siding with Armenia in the conflict, to which Moscow pledged to supply weapons under an agreement announced earlier this year. Meanwhile, Armenia criticized Russia for selling weapons to Azerbaijan.
Rogozin argued that should Russia end its “deterrent” arms supplies to Armenia and Azerbaijan, other countries would begin selling “weapons of an attacking, offensive type” to the region, Ekho Moskvy reported.
Under an estimated $4 billion worth of deals over recent years, Azerbaijan bought tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery systems from Moscow.
Under the latest deal with Armenia, Moscow is to provide Armenia with a $200 million credit to buy multiple-launch rocket systems, anti-tank missiles, and handheld antiaircraft missiles, among other military equipment.