“Kremlin leaves Armenia defenseless” – two purposes of Shoigu’s sudden visit to Baku

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu completed his two-day working visit to Azerbaijan.  During the visit, Shoigu met with President Ilham Aliyev and his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s official report said that during the visit, Shoigu will discuss military and technical cooperation and the Karabakh problem, as well as issues of international and regional security. The agenda was fully confirmed.

August 14, President Ilham Aliyev received S. Shoigu. At the meeting, the President noted that the last visit of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to Azerbaijan was successful; head of State noted that the meeting of Presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia that took place during the visit held discussions covering a wide spectrum of bilateral relations, adding, that military and military-technical cooperation is being successfully implemented. President Ilham Aliyev expressed confidence that the visit of Russian Defense Minister to Azerbaijan will contribute to fruitful discussions related to the prospects of cooperation in military and military-technical sphere.

For his part, the Russian minister stressed the importance of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Azerbaijan and meetings held during the visit with President Ilham Aliyev in terms of expansion of bilateral relations, including cooperation in military and military-technical sphere.

“The Ministries of Defense of Russia and Azerbaijan have much to discuss in matters of the military and military-technical cooperation. As for the challenges facing the military departments of the two countries, in our present and future work will try to provide all what you have agreed with the Russian president in terms of military and military-technical cooperation”, – Shoigu said, addressing the president of Azerbaijan.

According to him, both sides have a lot of topics for discussion and debriefing.

Yesterday, the second day of his visit, Shoigu met with his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov. According to information, the main topics of the Ministerial discussions with the participation of delegations were co-operation between the two countries in the military-technical sphere, as well as ways to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

As is obvious from the statements of Shoigu and President Ilham Aliyev, the main topic of discussion during the visit of the Russian minister was the continuation of cooperation between Russia and Azerbaijan in the sphere of arms trade. In fact, there is nothing sensational. Because in the course of Putin’s visit to Baku, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin who had come with him, who oversees the military-industrial complex, has announced the signing of new contracts. By the way, after a four-day war, Rogozin declared that Russia will continue to sell weapons to Azerbaijan, which caused a strong reaction in Armenia.

Visit of the Minister of Defense of Azerbaijan to Moscow, holding discussions there with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoigu’s visit to Baku the day after – of course, all these are connected with the implementation of new agreements in the military-technical sphere between the two countries.

These agreements, of course, most of all annoy and cause discontent and anxiety in Armenia. Recall that at a press conference after the meeting of Putin and Sargsyan last week, the Russian leader rather sharply responded to the question of Armenian journalists on the sale of Russian weapons to Azerbaijan, thereby making it clear that the supply of weapons will continue, and that Armenia better not interfere.

Just a few days after this statement Shoigu arrived in Baku. Now the Armenian media are actively commenting on the visit and its possible outcomes. Of course, criticism is directed mainly at Russia. For example, an article titled “Is Russia preparing Azerbaijan for a new war?” says:

“Immediately after the April war, Moscow said that it will further deepen military cooperation with Azerbaijan. As for Armenia, it turned out that weapons are not being supplied, and 200 million contracts are not even signed”.

“Taking into account its commitments to Turkey and Azerbaijan, Russia can supply Armenia with modern weapons only if it really decided not to exert pressure on the parties – that is, not to force Armenia to make concessions and not to push Azerbaijan to war.  Or weapons will be delivered when it is no longer needed. What do Shoigu’s intensive contacts with the Azerbaijani leadership mean?”, – asks the author of the article.

In another article, a political observer Hakob Badalyan writes:

“Russian policy is at an impasse – Moscow cannot play allies with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. It tries to break the impasse, to normalize relations with Ankara. But, apparently, Ankara demands even more complex task in return – the formation of the Ankara-Baku-Moscow axis on the Karabakh issue. But in parallel, Russia should make alternative proposals to Azerbaijan. It is possible that such a proposal is a de facto association of Azerbaijan in the CSTO. It is possible, that before the visit to Yerevan, that will host a meeting of the CSTO Ministers, Shoigu visited Baku in order to show – the reference point of Caucasus and a partner of the CSTO is not Yerevan, but Baku”.

The fact that during Shoigu’s visit to Baku attention was given not only to issues of military-technical cooperation, but the Karabakh issue is not really surprising. In any case, the rapprochement with Turkey will have impact on Karabakh. Dividends, which the Kremlin hopes to get, are pretty much clear: to enter its peacekeepers to the region instead of liberation of the territories, include Azerbaijan to Eurasian projects and the CSTO.

 All that is left is to coordinate these fateful plans with Baku and Ankara? Will it work? The most important thing is which way will the Kremlin choose to liberate territories – political pressure on Yerevan, or severe punishment with the help of Azerbaijan, for example, as it was in April?…

Source: Minval.az


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