The Trump Administration has substantially ramped up security assistance to Azerbaijan, amounting to more than $100 million in fiscal years (FY) 2018-19, according to budget data compiled by the Security Assistance Monitor, part of the Center for International Policy, a Washington think tank. Whereas the assistance appears to be part of U.S. strategy to increase pressure against Iran and focuses on Azerbaijan’s Iranian border, it also has direct implications for Armenia.
According to the data, under Section 333 “Building Partner Capacity” programs implemented by the Department of Defense (DoD), Azerbaijan was due to receive $58.6 million in FY 2018 and $42.9 million in FY2019. By comparison security aid levels in FY 2016-17 did not exceed $3 million a year.
As DoD notified Congress on April 27, 2018, it was spending $47.5 million on Azerbaijan’s “Southern Border Security: communications, electronics, construction, maritime interdiction equipment, and vehicles,” $11.1 million on “Maritime Security for the Capsian (sic!) Sea: communications, electronics, construction, maritime interdiction equipment, and vehicles,” and $80,000 on “human rights training.”
Whereas, the U.S. has long provided more military assistance to Azerbaijan than to Armenia, the contrast has only increased since last year’s change of government in Armenia. According to the Security Assistance Monitor, Armenia received $4.2 million in U.S. security assistance in FY 2018 (year that ended in October 2018) with zero funds planned for FY 2019.
As U.S. assistance for Azerbaijan’s border security increased last year, Azerbaijani border guards took over part of the Azerbaijani-Armenian frontline duties from the Defense Ministry, allowing the latter to free up forces to be used elsewhere on the Azerbaijani-Armenian Line of Contact.