Reps. Chu and Speier on visit to Artsakh in Oct. 2019. Courtesy ANCA

The United States should “immediately condemn the reckless actions of the Azerbaijani military and to work with our allies and international partners to halt the provocative actions being taken by the Aliyev Regime,” says a letter from 18 members of the House of Representatives. It was sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and made public by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). There was no immediate reaction reported from the Administration.

The letter was initiated by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who co-signed it with Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), T.J. Cox (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), James Langevin (D-R.I.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.).

The communication was in reference to military exercises which Azerbaijani defense ministry reported were being held from May 18-22. For more than a decade, Azerbaijan has organized similar war games without adequate forewarning as demanded by its international commitments.

Members of Congress also referred to more than $100 million in U.S. security aid allocated to Azerbaijan since 2018, arguing that “the aid appears to have allowed Azerbaijan to shift resources toward offensive capabilities and further threaten Armenian lives and regional stability as the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues warned in letters sent to you in September and November of 2019.” Members of Congress demanded an end to the program noting that the aid was being used by Azerbaijani Border Guards engaged in offensive operations on border with Armenia.

The expansion in US security assistance to Azerbaijan was first reported by the Focus on Karabakh in July 2019.

UPDATE: On June 3, 2020 Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Ranking Member Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a congressional oversight body, look into more than $120 million in US security aid to Azerbaijan over the past three fiscal years, and “provide the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a detailed report on this assistance program and its compliance with Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act,” ANCA reported.