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Azerbaijan–Russia relations (Russian: Российско-азербайджанские отношения or Азербайджано-российские отношения, Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan–Rusiya münasibətləri) defines the relationship between the two countries, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation.
What is now Azerbaijan became part of the Russian Empire after Qajar Iran was forced to cede it alongside all of its other Caucasian territories following the Russo-Persian War (1804–13) and the outcoming Treaty of Gulistan and the Russo-Persian War (1826–28) and its outcoming Treaty of Turkmenchay. The area to the North of the river Aras, among which the territory of the contemporary republic of Azerbaijan were Iranian territory until they were occupied by Russia. Following decades of being part of the Russian empire, Azerbaijan's independence, it subsequently got annexed into the Soviet Union in 1920. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, relations between the two countries started to get close due to Ayaz Mutallibov's foreign policy. However, after the Armenian occupation of Khojaly, Mutallibov was forced to resign which resulted in Abulfaz Elchibey coming to power. During one-year rule of Elchibey, Azerbaijan–Russia relations were damaged. Elchibay's politics have been described as "Anti-Russian." When Heydar Aliyev came to power in 1993, he settled warmer relations with Russia.
Russia has an embassy in Baku, and Azerbaijan has an embassy in Moscow and consulate-general in Saint Petersburg. Azerbaijan also announced that it will open another consulate-general in Yekaterinburg. There are more than half a million Azeris in Russia as well as a notable diaspora of Russians in Azerbaijan, which is the largest Russian diaspora in the region. President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev stated that the peoples of Russia and Azerbaijan were tied with "closest friendship and trust links". Relations between the two countries remain friendly and close but there are numerous disagreements such as in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the South Ossetian-Abkhazian conflict and the legal status of the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan supported Russia on the Chechnya issue and closed the office of Chechen rebel president Aslan Maskhadov's representative in Baku, as they faced a possible separatist movement by Lezghins (Lezgistan). Some analysts argued that Russia was neutral and somewhat supported Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict in the beginning of the 1990s until Elchibey's nationalist government took office, which caused Russia to sign many military agreements with Armenia. Even though this, along with the memory of Black January in 1990, causes distrust of Russia in Azerbaijani society, mainly among nationalists, according to a poll taken in 2007, about of 80% of Azeris approve of the friendship with Russia. After the 2008 war with Georgia, this number dropped to 52%. Russophobia had never been common in Azerbaijan and the government is also strongly committed to protecting the rights of ethnic Russians in Azerbaijan, but hostility exists toward Russians who are married to or otherwise connected with Armenians. Azeris often face discrimination in Russia because of the common "Caucasophobia" after the Chechen Wars, with the main reason considered to be that Russians cannot differentiate between Azerbaijanis and other Caucasian nationalities.
Russia's weapons transfers to Armenia in 2008
At the beginning of 2009 Azerbaijani media published allegations that Russia had made extensive weapons transfers to Armenia throughout 2008 costing about $800 mln. On January 12, 2009 the Russian ambassador was invited to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs and asked about this information. On January 21, 2009 Russian ministry of foreign relations officially denied the transfers. According to the materials published by Wikileaks in December 2010 Azerbaijani defence minister Safar Abiyev claimed that in January 2009 during his visit to Moscow his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov unofficially had admitted weapon transfers although officially it was denied.
On 27 February, 2003, in Baku, Russia and Azerbaijan signed an intergovernmental agreement on military-technical cooperation, and on 4 December 2006 the parties signed an intergovernmental agreement on mutual protection of rights of intellectual property.
The leaders of defense departments of both countries make guest visits on a regular basis. On 23–25 January 2006 Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov visited Baku. In November 2007, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov also visited Azerbaijan. On 29 July 29, 2008, in Moscow, the Second Meeting of Russia-Azerbaijan Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation took place.
On 25 January 2002, an agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan on the status, principles and conditions for use of the Gabala radar station (radar station, "DTV") was signed, and on 28 November 2003 an intergovernmental protocol was signed, dealing with the question on how to open and use the credits to pay for the costs with the use of information-analytical center for the period 1997–2001. On 2007 June 20 the Intergovernmental Protocol was signed, addressing the status of authorized representatives of Russia and Azerbaijan, appointed to execute the Agreement on the status, principles and conditions of use of the radar "DTV".
On June 8, 2007, at the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a proposal to use the Qabala radar station as a part of the U.S.-developed missile defense system. The proposal was supported by the Azerbaijani leadership, which considered it as a concrete contribution to stability and security in the region.
Border cooperation remains an important component of Azerbaijan–Russia relations, taking into account the overall situation in the Caucasus and the common objectives of the struggle against international terrorism. On 25 January 2002 an intergovernmental agreement on the activities of border service representatives was signed. The consultations are going about an agreement on opening of border service offices on the territories of both countries.
On 29–30 January 2008, Moscow hosted the XV round of talks on the delimitation of the border with Azerbaijan. The agreed boundary line, which was outlined in the working protocols, map and descriptive documents, is 301.1 kilometres (187.1 mi), which corresponds to the 90% of the total border of 336.5 km (209.1 mi).
Law enforcement and judicial authorities of Russia and Azerbaijan cooperate as well. Signed in April 1996, the Agreement between the Russian Interior Ministry and the Interior Ministry of Azerbaijan on cooperation of internal affairs in border areas entered into force in 2001. Also there were the following agreements: Memorandum of mutual relations in the fight against terrorism (February 2000) and protocols on cooperation, a memorandum on cooperation between the Russian Interior Ministry and the Interior Ministry in the field of preservation of goods in transit (July 2008).
Trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Azerbaijan is on the rise. In 2008 the trade turnover between the two countries increased annually by 39.3% and amounted to US$2.403 billion, exports grew by 42.6% up to $1.9911 billion, imports increased by 25.4% up to $411.4 million. Despite the end of Russian gas deliveries to Azerbaijan on January 1, 2007, the trade has kept a positive trend, and its structure has evolved towards an increasing share of non-primary goods.
Russian–Azerbaijani relations in culture and education are developing steadily. In December 2006, the two countries adopted a program of interstate cooperation in the humanitarian sphere for 2007–2009.
2005 was the "Year of Azerbaijan" in Russia and 2006 was the "Year of Russia" in Azerbaijan; the two countries held 110 special cultural events during these two years.
In 2008, in Baku, a branch of Moscow State University was established. In the universities of Azerbaijan over 15 thousand students are involved in Russian language education. In Azerbaijan there are over 50 Russian-language newspapers and 10 Russian news agencies.
Breakdown and renewal
After a string of breakdowns in the 2010s, including renewal of the lease of the Gabala Radar Station to Russia, and the consequent constructions of the a new station in Russia's own Krasnodar Region, the decision by Russia to stop transit of Azeri oil via the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline, the holding of the Azerbaijani tanker "Naphthalene" in Dagestan on suspicion of hauling contraband and the Federal Lezgian National and Cultural Autonomy movement's announcement that Lezgians were be in August 2013. The discussions involved the issue of regulation of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Caspian Sea legal regime and cooperation in energy. Additionally, an agreement on cooperation and terms for oil supply was signed by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and Rosneft; while there was also an agreement on the construction of a new automobile bridge across the Samur River, on the joint border. The visit took on added importance as it was read as leveraging Armenia–Azerbaijan relations in a warning in light of Armenia considering signing an Association Agreement with the European Union.
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- Markedonov, Sergei (16 August 2013). "Reviewing loyalties in Greater Caucasus". Retrieved 29 September 2016.
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