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Angered at Arms Sales to Azerbaijan, Armenians Push Away from Russia’s Embrace

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (second from right) inspects Russian-made S-300 PMU-2 Favorit anti-aircraft missile systems at a military base in November 2015. Russia accounts for as much as 85 percent of Baku’s total military supply, angering many Armenians who have supported their country’s closer ties with Russia. (Photo: Azerbaijan Presidential Press Service)

When Armenia joined the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union in 2015, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan justified the decision in part by asserting that membership would enhance Armenia’s national security. But, as the early April flare-up in fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory showed, such security benefits are more theoretical than real.
 
Armenia is ostensibly Russia’s closest strategic ally in the South Caucasus. Yet the intense fighting in Karabakh helped focus public attention on an issue that has rankled Armenians – Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan. Armenia officially lost 92 soldiers in the four days of fighting. The fact that Russian-supplied arms played a role in those deaths has become a source of bitterness for Armenians.
 
“It is naturally painful for us when Russia, and not only Russia, but other CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) member states, sell arms to Azerbaijan,” Sargsyan said in early April while on a visit to Germany.
 

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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Armenia and editor of MediaLab.am.

Angered at Arms Sales to Azerbaijan, Armenians Push Away from Russia’s Embrace

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