Caucasus Reality 12 july — 13:55

US decided on Khankendi airport. Will Azerbaijan bring down enemy aircraft? (On-the-fly)

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BY FARHAD MAMMADOV

The US House of Representatives has approved an amendment introduced by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) to block the transfer of US defence articles to Azerbaijan that could potentially be used to shoot down civilian aircraft operating out of Khankendi airport in the occupied Karabakh.

'This initiative will become a strong message for Azerbaijan. From now on, Baku will not be able to threaten the civil aviation of Nagorno-Karabakh and shoot down aircraft,' the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) quotes Sherman.

The ANCA-backed amendment to Fiscal Year 2020 National Defence Authorisation Act was adopted with a vote of 234 to 195.

Congressman Brad Sherman

In order for this amendment to enter into force, the law on the military budget must be approved in both houses and signed by President Donald Trump.

In fact, this amendment looks extremely delusional. After all, if it enters into force, the United States will not be able to sell anti-aircraft missile systems and ground-to-air missiles to Azerbaijan. But the whole paradox of the situation is that the United States does not sell weapons to Azerbaijan anyway, and official Baku does not show interest in buying American weapons.

On the other hand, Azerbaijan does not give permission for flights to Khankendi airport, built by Armenians in the occupied territories. Azerbaijan has repeatedly warned the International Civil Aviation Agency (ICAO) about this even before the start of construction work, subsequently conducted with donations from the Armenian diaspora. And the ICAO, guided by the principle of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, refused to confer special status to the Khankendi airport. Official Baku also warned that it was ready to use military means to prevent flights to Khankendi airport.

If Azerbaijan downs a plane flying to Khankendi airport, then the government of our country, according to international standards, will not bear any legal responsibility. Since, due to the lack of special status and identification code of the airport, one cannot identify a flying plane: is it a military or a civilian one. Thus, any aircraft in this airspace will be designated as unidentified, and Azerbaijan has the legal right to shoot down an unidentified target that intruded into its airspace. It is for this reason that Armenia has been postponing the organisation of flights to Khankendi airport for several years already. Although to this day the Armenian lobby in America keeps this issue on the political agenda of US government institutions.

Now, the leaders of the Armenian diaspora, with the help of their lobbyists in Congress, are trying to come up with such a meaningless legislative initiative. It does not make sense also because Azerbaijan has in its arsenal the means allowing to shoot down not only defenceless civil aircraft over Nagorno-Karabakh, but also military aircraft, missiles, including cruise ones. That is, in order to shoot down an air object (whether military or civilian) that illegally invaded the space of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan does not need American weapons. The initiative of Congressman Sherman, commissioned by the ANCA, in any case cannot be a 'strong retention message' for Azerbaijan.

Patriot missiles

Indeed, according to the secret American diplomatic protocols spread by WikiLeaks several years ago, the Azerbaijani leadership asked the United States for the Patriot air defence systems to protect strategic oil facilities. And America responded positively to this appeal from the Azerbaijani authorities. However, since that time, the air defence forces of Azerbaijan, with the help of primarily Russian armaments, have seriously expanded their capabilities and have adopted the most advanced systems that can shoot down any air target.

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