BAKU, Azerbaijan— Russia has delivered a new batch of anti-tank missiles to Azerbaijan as a part of a lucrative arms deal with Baku that has been strongly criticized by Armenia in the past year.
On June 24, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry released a video of around a dozen self-propelled Khrizantema-S systems unloaded from a Russian cargo ship docked Baku’s Caspian Sea port.
The Khrizantema-S is designed to detect and destroy tanks, armored vehicles, field fortifications and even some low-flying aerial targets with guided missiles. It entered service with the Russian Armed Forces in 2005.
According to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Azerbaijan is known to have received 10 such systems in 2015. It reportedly commissioned them in 2014.
On June 26, Armenian officials declined to comment on the latest deal. However, on June 28, Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan criticized the arms deal, citing Azerbaijan’s unpredictability as a dangerous component to the delivery.
Russia has also sold around $5 billion worth of tanks, artillery systems and other weapons to Azerbaijan in line with defense contracts signed in 2009-2011. According to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, it shipped six heavy artillery systems to the Azerbaijani military last year.
Previously, Armenian authorities had raised concerns regarding similar deals to Azerbaijan, especially after Azerbaijan’s 2016 April offensive. They said that supplying arms to Azerbaijani contradicts Russia’s alliance with Armenia and encourages a military solution to the conflict. However, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had rejected the criticism, saying that providing weapons to both sides creates a military balance in the conflict.
Last August, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Moscow had increased the risk of another Artsakh war by providing weaponry. After implying that oil-rich Azerbaijan could have purchased weapons from other nations, Putin also argued that Russia has been providing Armenia with substantial military aid to Armenia for a long time.