By Edmond Y. Azadian
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin recently paid a state visit to Azerbaijan on his way to Iran. Azerbaijan being an oil-rich land, represents a slippery territory, figuratively and literally. That visit triggered a plethora of interpretations, both in Russia and in the Western news media. As Armenia is Russia’s strategic ally in the region, it was glaring that the first visit after his election would take Mr. Putin to Azerbaijan and not Armenia, despite Yerevan’s standing invitation.
Observed within the context of recent developments in the region, this trip was a cause for concern in Armenia.
Moscow had recently delivered sophisticated deadly weapons to Azerbaijan, initially estimated to be worth $1.5 billion, but it turns out during Putin-Aliyev negotiation that the actual value of those weapons was $4 billion.
Azerbaijan also buys arms from Ukraine, Belarus and Israel.
The Armenian public was rightfully alarmed for two reasons: the arms shipments and Putin’s timing of his visit to Azerbaijan. Although in some official circles these moves were dismissed as normal business contacts, the fears that something more sinister was going on were not assuaged.