On October 18, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made an extraordinary statement. He accused the three OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries – Russia, France and the United States – of supplying arms to Armenia, stating that those three countries provide all kinds of weapons to Armenia.
The Fact Investigation Platform has studied the extent to which this assertion is true.
Russia supplies a wide variety of weapons to both sides of the Artsakh conflict. It is Russia that has supplied most of the arsenal of Armenia and Azerbaijan. In the case of Armenia, the share of weapons imported from Russia is certainly bigger. Thus, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 96% of the weapons imported to Armenia in 2007-2011 came from Russia, and in 2015-2019 – 94% were imported from Russia. Back in 1993-1994, Russia supplied a significant amount of weapons to Armenia, including several dozen tanks, hundreds of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile systems.
The share of Russian weapons in the arsenal of Azerbaijan is quite big. In 2013 Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated that they had bought $ 4 billion worth of weapons from Russia. According to SIPRI, in 2009-2013, 80% of the weapons imported by Azerbaijan came from Russia. It was during these years that Azerbaijan began to enrich its arsenal. In the following years, Russia’s share fell significantly as Azerbaijan found new arms suppliers (Turkey and Israel). In 2015-2019, a significant amount of weapons was still imported from Russia. According to SIPRI, 30% of the weapons bought by Azerbaijan in those years came from Russia.
As Fip.am has already reported citing official sources, France has sold about € 150 million worth of weapons to Azerbaijan, the vast majority of which in 2015. According to official data published by the EU, France sold only € 4,000 worth of weapons to Armenia in 2013-2019 (dozens of times less than the weapons sold to Azerbaijan).
The United States
As for the United States, it has not directly supplied weapons to either Armenia or Azerbaijan. According to the SIPRI database, the United States has not sold weapons to Armenia, and has supplied only 140 armored vehicle diesel engines to Azerbaijan.
However, for many years, the United States has provided direct financial assistance to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, namely security assistance. In the last 20 years, the United States has allocated two times more money to Azerbaijan than to Armenia to support this sector.
Thus, according to the Security Assistance Monitor website launched by the Center for International Policy, in 2000-2020, the United States provided almost $ 210 million in security assistance to Armenia and more than $ 418 million to Azerbaijan.
Moreover, during Donald Trump’s presidency in 2017-2020, Armenia received only $ 16 million, and Azerbaijan – almost $ 106 million. Meanwhile, the administration of President Barack Obama (2009-2016) provided equal amounts of assistance to both countries. Armenia received $ 117 million in support during his presidency, and Azerbaijan $ 114 million.
And during the presidency of George W. Bush (2001-2008) two and a half times more money ($ 196 million) was allocated to Azerbaijan than to Armenia ($ 76.5 million).
Armenia and Azerbaijan also received security assistance in the last year of Bill Clinton’s presidency, in 2000, when Armenia received $ 542,000 and Azerbaijan $ 1.9 million.
About 85 percent ($ 177 million) of the approximately $ 210 million in US assistance to Armenia in 2000-2020 was provided under five projects:
- $ 70.8 million (34%) for destroying weapons of mass destruction and associated infrastructure of the former Soviet Union
- $ 51.3 million (24%) – direct funding for delivery of US military services or goods
- $ 19.2 million (9%) – equipment and drills for fight against drug dealing and other crimes
- $ 19.1 million (9%) under the Freedom Support Act
- $ 16.1 million (8%) for counter-terrorism, demining and related projects
As for Azerbaijan, more than 80% ($ 338.5 million) of the $ 418 million assistance provided to Azerbaijan in 2000-2020 was provided under four projects:
- $ 146 million (35%) for destroying weapons of mass destruction and associated infrastructure of the former Soviet Union
- $ 101.5 million (24%) to build partner capacities, particularly for counter-terrorism, drug prevention, organized crime, sea and land border security, and military reconnaissance operations
- $ 51.3 million (12%) direct funding for delivery of US military services or goods
- $ 39.7 million (10%) for counter-terrorism, demining and related programs
Although Azerbaijan has spent a significant portion of US security assistance on the navy, and the United States supports the country primarily to put pressure on Iran, according to US-Armenian military expert Emil Sanamyan, US assistance also has consequences in the context of the conflict with Armenia. In particular, the Azerbaijani border troops, which control some parts of the border with Armenia, receive direct support from the United States, and, as Sanamyan notes, can be used against Artsakh.
Thus, studying the information available in open sources, it becomes clear that of the three Minsk Group co-chair countries, only Russia arms Armenia, and France has sold arms only to Azerbaijan. The United States has not sold arms to either side, but in the last 20 years it has provided twice as much security assistance to Azerbaijan as to Armenia.