The Republic of Armenia announced Thursday that it was recalling its ambassador from Israel due to Israeli weapon sales to its bitter enemy Azerbaijan, as heavy fighting between the two nations continued over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The clash between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continued for a fifth straight day on Thursday, in the biggest escalation in years of a decades-old conflict that has killed dozens and left scores of others wounded.
The Armenian ambassador was recalled to protest what an Armenian foreign ministry spokeswoman called “Israel’s supply of ultra-modern weapons to Azerbaijan.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry released a statement in response saying it regretted the Armenian decision and that “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.”
Armenian foreign ministry spokewoman @naghdalyan: "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"
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) October 1, 2020
Israel and Azerbaijan enjoy security and import agreements and it is speculated that Israel supplies 60 percent of the Azeri military’s armaments, while Azerbaijan supplies a large amount of natural fuel to the Jewish state.
The Azeri military has been using Israeli-made attack drones — including loitering munitions, or “kamikaze drones” — during the recent uptick in violence with Armenia, Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant to the president of Azerbaijan, said in an interview with the Israeli Walla news outlet Wednesday.
Hajiyev lauded the effectiveness of the Israeli weapons.
The Azeri Ministry of Defense released several videos showing drones in action against Armenian forces.
The fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh erupted Sunday and has continued despite mounting calls for a ceasefire from around the globe.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said Armenian forces started shelling the town of Tartar last week, damaging “civilian infrastructure” and wounding people, while Armenian military officials reported that Azerbaijani forces were bombing positions of the Nagorno-Karabakh army in the north of the war-torn region.
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by the Armenian government since 1994, at the end of a separatist war following the breakup of the Soviet Union three years earlier.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.