MOSCOW, June 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is currently delivering up to $1 billion worth of military equipment to Azerbaijan including tanks, artillery systems and infantry fighting vehicles, Vedomosti newspaper reported Tuesday.
The shipments are the result of contracts signed in 2011 and 2012, unnamed Russian Defense Ministry sources told the business daily, which also cited photographs posted on milkavkaz.net, a website analyzing the military situation in the Southern Caucasus, to prove the deliveries were underway.
The military hardware being supplied to Baku is worth between $700 million and $1 billion and includes 94 T-90S tanks, about 100 BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, 18 Msta-S howitzers, 18 Smerch rocket launchers, 18 Vena “floating mortars,” and six TOS-1A Solntsepek multiple launch rocket systems, according to Vedomosti.
Reached by phone, a spokesman for Rosoboronexport, the state-controlled arms trader, declined to comment on the report.
Large-scale Russian military support for Azerbaijan is likely to provoke unease in neighboring Armenia, which traditionally enjoys a close relationship with Moscow. Armenia and Azerbaijan are still locked in a dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave populated mostly by ethnic Armenians but located within Azerbaijan's internationally recognized borders, where a bloody war erupted in the late 1980s and went on to claim tens of thousands lives.
Updated with corrected references to Nagorno-Karabakh's status and geography.