In a statement yesterday, the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan expressed concern over “Russia’s growing military presence in Armenia” and “continuing Russian arms deliveries, leading to a quantitative and qualitative upgrade of the Russian-Armenian group of forces.” According to the statement, Russian forces in Armenia pose a threat to the security of Azerbaijan and of the South Caucasus as a whole, “with unpredictable potential consequences.” The document also reaffirms Baku’s longstanding demand for the return to Russia of the more than US$1 billion worth of arms delivered to Armenia in 1994-1996. Furthermore, it calls for the suspension of the military provisions of the 1997 Russian-Armenian friendship treaty, pending the resolution of the Karabakh conflict (AzadInform, December 21).
The statement follows in the wake of the Russian Air Force Commander Colonel-General Anatoly Kornukov’s visit to Armenia and the start of a program to modernize the Russian aviation and air defense forces based there. The program is said to include the deployment of S-300 missiles (see the Monitor, December 18). Moreover, the ground force hardware supplied by Russia and deployed in Armenia and Karabakh almost certainly exceeds CFE limits and eludes effective control by the OSCE. Azerbaijan has repeatedly called also for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia.
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