The Arms Sale Didn’t Happen. But What Did?

The armed stand-off between Arminia and Azerbaijan in Nagorny Karabakh has recently affected Kazakhstan. At this point, it is still unclear in what way this is going to impact the internal political developments in the country.

According to our sources, this is what’s happened.

Here is a quote from a Sputnik Kazakhstan publication of November 8, 2020, titled «Kazakhstan Has Answered the Question about the Arms Sales to Azerbaijan». The tag line reads — «The ministry in charge denies the information on providing military assistance to Baku that has appeared on social networks and some mass media» (text in bold by

«According to portal, several websites and social networks have released information that Kazakhstan’s begun selling arms to Azerbaijan.

«This information is a fake. The Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development has officially denied this statement. Kazakhstan is honouring all its commitments vis-a-vis the international community and has no intentions to sell weaponry to other countries. The information presented in the article does not reflect the reality and lacks any kind of foundation», says the Ministry’s statement.

Also, the Agency’s underscored that, in the period from November 2 to November 3, 2020, Silk Way West Airlines hadn’t performed any flights between Nur-Sultan and Baku. 

The Ministry of Industry has urged the Kazakh citizens to trust the official information and the reliable sources only».

According to our insiders, the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan did not deceive the Kazakhs and foreign observers — there really have been no sales of arms and military equipment to Azerbaijan this year. At the same time, the Agency did not tell the whole truth.

Meanwhile, the whole truth is that, quite recently, the Head of the Ministry Beybut Atamkulov and the Turkish Minister of Defence Hulusi Akar have held negotiations on the subject.

At the end of this October, Mr. Akar visited Kazakhstan where he held negotiations with both Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Defence Nurlan Ermekbayev and Minister of Industry and Infrastructural Development Beybut Atamkulov. Of course, the Agency’s press-release said nothing about the distinguished Turkish guest’s attempts to negotiate the sale of the Soviet-designed arms and military equipment from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan. (By the way, such precedent did take place in the 1990s when the Kazabakh conflict began).

Defence Ministers of Turkey and Kazakhstan at the October 2020 meeting (screenshot from video TK TDK-42).

There are two reasons why the Turkish Minister of Defence talked about such a sensitive subject not with his Kazakh colleague but with Beybut Atamkulov in particular -

  • first, the Kazspetsexpoert company owned by the state is subordinated to no other than the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development;
  • second, thanks to his biography and the previous business operations, Beybut Atamkulov is quite known among the narrow circle of arms traders.

As reflected in the Kazakh press, the meeting of Atamkulov and the Turkish guest looked much more graphic. Here is a quote from a publication titled „Word Leaked Out on the Purpose of the Turkish Defence Minister’s Visit to Kazakhstan“ (text in bold by 

«I would like to report that, literally at this moment, we have completed quite a productive and very successful meeting with my esteemed colleague and friend, the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr. Ermekbayev. We have discussed the questions related to the further widening and deepening of the cooperation in the sphere of defence between our countries. Since, at the level of the Presidents, our counties are engaged in a tight dialogue and cooperation, our job has been quite an easy one. We have discussed the questions of the implementation of the reached agreements«, tells Turkey’s Minister of Defence Hulusi Akar.

He reported that the parties had agreed upon the necessity of the further tightening of the military and technological cooperation between Kazakhstan and Turkey which would help to increase and broaden the contacts.

«Now I am heading to the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development to discuss the issues of our cooperation in the field of the defence industry with the Minister, Mr. Atamkulov (…)«, said Hulusi Akar».  

Let us repeat, the attempt of the Turkish representative to negotiate a deal on the sale of the Soviet-designed arms and military equipment to Azerbaijan that is now conducting active military operations in Karabakh has failed. However, it looks like certain proper authorities of the state that does not want Azerbaijan and its key ally, Turkey, to win (even if it does not support Armenia directly) have learned about it. It looks like it is these authorities that have leaked the fake albeit sensitive information to the press and social networks thus putting Akorda and the library in a particularly awkward spot.

Consequently, the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan had to, in an urgent fashion, deny the information that the country has started selling arms to Azerbaijan. And, judging by the fact that neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Ministry of Defence has joined it in this undertaking, the ruling elite realises full well the gravity of the situation in which the country has found itself. 

We shall see if the story evolves any further. And in what way it may affect Beybut Atamkulov.


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