Russia Starts Delivering $1 Billion Arms Package to Azerbaijan

Russia has begun delivering 100 T-90C tanks to Azerbaijan

From Thomas Grove, Reuters:  Russia has begun delivering tanks, artillery cannons and rocket launchers worth $1 billion to Azerbaijan , a Moscow-based defense group said on Tuesday, as the former Soviet republic strengthens its military readiness in the volatile South Caucasus.

Oil- and gas-producing Azerbaijan, where President Ilham Aliyev faces re-election in October, has boosted arms spending and threatened to take back the disputed territory of Nagorno- Karabakh by force from neighboring Armenia. . . .

The arms package, signed in a series of contracts between 2011 and 2012, includes nearly 100 T-90C tanks, Smerch and TOS-1A multiple rocket launchers and Msta-A and Vena artillery cannons, said Ruslan Pukhov, director of defense think tank CAST.

A source at the Russian Defence Ministry said the order had been on hold for some time to avoid upsetting the military balance in the South Caucasus, where Russia has a military base in Armenia and an agreement to defend the country if it comes under attack. But the deal had been pushed through at the behest of Russia’s powerful arms industry, he said. . . .

Russia has almost completed deliveries of a previous, larger package, estimated by CAST as worth $2-3 billion and including S-300 missile systems and attack helicopters.

From Joshua Kucera, Bug Pit:  Frankly, this is the sort of story that makes one despair of ever understanding anything that goes on in the political-military affairs of the ex-USSR. To review: Russia gives lots of weapons to Armenia because it’s a strategic ally, while selling arms at a profit to the oil-rich foe that Armenia is likely to go to war with, Azerbaijan. It’s really win-win-win — except for the people of the Caucasus, who are going to be the victims of these weapons some day.  (photo: APA)

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