Russian official not sure Russia did not supply weapons to Armenia

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 6 February 2009 14:40 (UTC +04:00)

Russia, Moscow, Feb. 6 / Trend , R.Agayev/

Russian State Duma Committee Deputy Chairman Sergei Markov is not sure that Russia did not supply weapons to Armenia.

"I think Russia could supply weapons to its ally Armenia," Political Studies Institute Director Sergei Markov told Trend .

Media outlets reported about an armament supply worth $800 million from the Armenia-based 102nd Russian military base to Armenia. Russia's Ambassador to Azerbaijan Vasiliy Istratov was invited to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry to clarify the situation. Russian Defense and Foreign Ministries denied media reports that the country supplied ammunition to Yerevan. Baku, however, remained dissatisfied with Moscow's reply. During a telephone conversation both countries' Foreign Ministers agreed to continue consultations on the issue.

At Feb. 2 parliamentary meeting Speaker Ogtay Asadov suggested sending Azerbaijani MPs to Moscow to meet with their Russian counterparts to discuss the armament supply to Armenia.

Markov said Russian MPs will have to reply whether weapons were delivered to Armenia or not. "I do not still have a clear opinion on this matter," he said.

There is logic in possible arms supplies to Armenia, as Azerbaijani military budget is rapidly increasing. If the balance is broken, that will promote sliding towards military action, Markov said. "To some extent, Russian arms supply to Armenia is in the interests of the Azerbaijani people, because a war would be a colossal tragedy and would solve nothing," he said.

On the other hand, he said, the weapons may not have been delivered, as Russian officials are flatly denying the fact.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.
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