Clashes along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border on July 12-14 not only triggered widespread international condemnation but also highlighted Yerevan’s desperation to divert world attention from occupied territories.
According to Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, army officers and soldiers of their country were killed when the Armenian army suddenly attacked their positions with mortars and howitzers.
Reacting strongly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar condemned the Armenian attacks and sided with Azerbaijan.
Turkey-Azerbaijan Team Up
The deputies of Turkish political parties in the Grand National Assembly be that ruling AK Party or opposition CHP, MHP, and IYI Party, signed a joint statement, condemning the Armenian attack and said that the issue concerned the national interests of Turkey.
Azerbaijani and Turkish armed forces are gearing up for military drills that will take place over two weeks in Azerbaijan. The Land Forces and the Air Force of the two neighbouring countries will be involved in the Live Fire Joint Large-Scale Tactical and Flight-Tactical Exercises.
The Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan reported on Monday that the exercises are organized as part of the annual plan outlined in the Agreement on the Military Cooperation between the two countries. The military personnel, armored vehicles, artillery mounts, and mortars, as well as military aviation and air defense equipment of the two armed forces, will participate at the military rehearsal, according to the ministry.
The exercises with the participation of the Air Force will reportedly be held July 29 – August 10 in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, the southwestern Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, the country’s second-largest city of Ganja, and the central districts of Kurdamir and Yevlakh. The exercises involving the Land Forces will take place August 1 – 5 in Baku and Nakhchivan.
After arriving in Nakhchivan on Monday, part of the military personnel and equipment from Turkey was relocated in the exercise area.
To strengthen the army’s combat readiness, Azerbaijani armed forces teamed up with their Turkish counterparts for 13 armed rehearsals in 2019. On June 8-11 of the same year, 5,000 soldiers, 200 tanks and armored vehicles, 180 missiles and cannons, 21 aircraft and helicopters, and other military equipment were involved in large-scale drills in Nakhchivan. President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan said Baku and Ankara plan to hold more exercises this year.
Currently, 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory is under Armenia’s occupation. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the two countries that formed part of the union fought a bloody war between 1991 and 1994. Armenia fanned the flames of war with encroaching on Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region. Consequences of the four-year war were quite catastrophic for Azerbaijan: the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts were occupied, 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed, and one million were forcibly displaced from their homes by Armenia’s military.
Armenia has been refusing to fulfil four UN resolutions that demand unconditional withdrawal of the forces from the occupied lands and return of displaced people to their houses. Instead, the country provokes regular hostilities both along the Line of Contact in the occupied territories and on the border.
Bayraktar TB2 to play key role
Azerbaijan is expected to import brand new Turkish-made military drones, following the parliament’s ratification of a military-financial agreement between Baku and Ankara for the purchase of defense products worth 200 million Turkish lira, or nearly $30 million.
The deal that was signed during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Baku on February 24 has passed the endorsement of Azerbaijan’s parliament Milli Majlis on May 31. Head of the parliament’s defense and security committee Ziyafat Asgarov said the document serves to strengthen the mutual military cooperation even further and contribute to the development of the Azerbaijani army.
Turkey to sale high-tech weaponry to Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan also works to enrich the army arsenal with advanced military equipment of Turkish production. Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov recently revealed that the Azerbaijani army may soon be armed with the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) produced by Turkish defense companies.
The procurement of the equipment is expected to take place as part of the Military Financial Cooperation Agreement that was signed between the two countries in February 2019. The document addresses Turkey’s $28 million financial package for defense purchases of Azerbaijan. In addition to UAVs and UCAVs, Azerbaijan is said to be mulling the purchase of Turkish-made Altay tanks and Atak helicopters.
Another hotspot for Turkey-Russia showdown
The latest attack also stems from Armenia’s desire to seek political and military support from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), because the country has been pinched by the political isolation and its military incompetence in recent years.
Armenia also used the CSTO to start confrontation between Turkey and Russia, as it does not want their relations to normalize. Because it cannot benefit from Russia if its relations remain normal with Turkey. It also tried to project Turkey not only against Russia but also against the CSTO.
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