Commenting on the video on the modernized rocket launchers of Russian TOS1-A “Solntsepyok” heavy flamethrower systems that have arrived in Azerbaijan, Spokesperson of President of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) Davit Babayan noted that he has negative attitude towards supply of arms to Azerbaijan by any country. At the same time, Babayan added that “if Russia does not supply [arms], another country will”.
This thesis is regularly repeated by different officials who seem to have undertaken the role of Russia’s advocates. It is also actively spread by the Russian propaganda machine. For instance, Director General of “Russia Today” information agency Dmitry Kiselyov has claimed that arms sales to Azerbaijan by Russia stems from Armenia’s interests.
Note, however, that Azerbaijan cannot purchase TOS1-A “Solntsepyok” heavy flamethrower systems, for instance, or “Smerch” type heavy multiple rocket launchers from any other country for the simple reason that only the US has similar weapons. However, the US refuses to sell any arms to Azerbaijan. Other countries in the world do not produce such systems.
Moreover, it should be noted that according to data published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Azerbaijan increased its arms imports by 3.5 times during 2010 to 2015, and Russia accounted for more than 85% of those imports.
Israel occupies the second place in arms supply to Azerbaijan. But it should be noted that Israel does not produce weapons that Russia has sold to Azerbaijan, or these are unfit for the region and climatic conditions.
Thus, the thesis “If Russia does not sell, another country will” is groundless… For many weapons, it would be more just to say “If Russia does not sell the weapon, Azerbaijan will not have it”.
It is understandable when arms sales to Azerbaijan are being justified by Moscow. However, it is difficult to understand why Bako Sahakyan’s spokesman spreads false information in order to protect Russia’s policy.