Armenia recalled its ambassador to Israel today, issuing a rare diplomatic rebuke over Israel’s arm sales to rival Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan’s military deployed Israeli-made drones against Armenian forces during the heavy fighting that erupted in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, an Azerbaijani official told a local Israeli outlet this week.
The two former Soviet republics are locked in their worst round of violence in years. More than 100 have died this week in the contested territory, which is officially part of Azerbaijan but run by ethnic Armenians backed by Yerevan.
"For us, Israel's supply of ultra-modern weapons to Azerbaijan is unacceptable, especially now, in the conditions of Azerbaijan's aggression with the support of Turkey,” said Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan.
After Armenia recalled its ambassador, Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying, “Israel attaches importance to our relations with Armenia, and because of this sees the Armenian Embassy in Israel as an important tool for promoting the benefit of both peoples.”
Israel has not taken a side, but does consider Azerbaijan to be a strategic ally. According to the Times of Israel, it is believed that Israel supplies 60% of the Azerbaijani military’s weaponry.
In an interview published Wednesday with the Israeli news site Walla, Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant to the president of Azerbaijan, said his countrymen “very much appreciate the cooperation with Israel, especially the defense cooperation.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan have rebuffed international calls for a cease-fire. In a joint statement today, the leaders of the United States, France and Russia urged the two sides to commit to resuming substantive talks over Nagorno-Karabakh.