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Russian Arms Sales to Azerbaijan: Factors that Should Be Considered

After the April war the public debate intensified concerning Russia’s selling weapons to Azerbaijan. The Russian side voiced some excuses that are summarized under the following main theses: "It’s just a business and nothing more." "If Russia does not sell, other countries will sell the weapon." etc.

In reality, these theses would be quite acceptable if they referred to a third country, but in the case of Azerbaijan, which explicitly considers Armenia its number one enemy, all these arguments are not very convincing.

Speaking about Russia selling military equipment to Azerbaijan we should not forget about a few important factors.

1. Receiving weapons of various types from Russia is perceived by Azerbaijani military and political leadership as Moscow's permission to use those weapons against its ally Armenia. In fact, it is not a secret for anyone who will the target of those weapons that Azerbaijan acquired be.

2. As a result of Russian-Azerbaijani military operations, Baku sometimes acquires weapons, equivalents of which are not produced by most countries, let alone sold to third countries. In fact, those who promote the thesis that if Azerbaijan does not buy weapons from Russia, it will buy them from another country, are not objective.

3. Moscow and Baku transactions also have a psychological component. When Armenian soldier standing on the border realizes that he is being fired by Russian weapons, it certainly cannot but leave its mark on the perception of the Armenian-Russian relations. Perhaps, to some extent, it is due to this very fact that some public circles look at the Armenian-Russian allied relations with some skepticism.

This list of factors can be continued, but the most important thing is that all sides should understand this, and first of all, Russia of course. Certainly it is the sovereign right of any country to sell weapons, but sometimes giving priority to the economic interest can create more serious problems, for overcoming which greater efforts can be needed. Finally, we should not forget the great Russian writer Chekhov's words, who said "If the weapon is on the wall, it will fire one day."

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