United States Senator and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Bob Menendez expressed concern to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the Biden administration providing assistance to Azerbaijan’s Aliyev regime given its invasion of Armenia in 2022, the blockade of Lachin Corridor and other aggressive actions.
“In the past year we’ve seen Azerbaijan invade Armenia, manufacture a food security crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh with its ongoing blockade, continue rampant repression domestically, including with the unjustified detention of activists like Bakhtiyar Hajiyev,” Menendez said during a committee hearing where Blinken was testifying. “ In the past 5 years we’ve seen Azerbaijan start a war that killed 6,500 people, force almost a hundred thousand Karabakh Armenians from their homes. So I am concerned about providing assistance to the Aliyev regime. But it strikes me as particular egregious that the administration would request seven hundred thousand dollars in international military education and training funds for Azerbaijan. So can you explain to the American people why we would want to provide military education and training to an aggressor state that attacks its neighbors and violates the rights of its citizens?”
Blinken answered that there are practical reasons for providing military assistance to Azerbaijan.
“First of all, when it comes to the military assistance, and particularly to the infamous section 901 waiver that we engage in. Look, there are some very practical reasons for that. One is to actually strengthen, as you know, the interoperability between their forces, ours, NATO’s, they engage in peacekeeping. They have a long border with Iran, that needs defending. But also, to this point we think there’s real benefit to increasing the Western education, maybe orientation of some of their officers,” Blinken answered.