YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The armed forces of Azerbaijan and Turkey started joint exercises on Wednesday, July 29, two weeks after deadly hostilities on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border which led Ankara to promise more military assistance to Baku.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced on Monday that the “large-scale” exercises will involve warplanes and artillery and air-defense systems. It did not specify the number of soldiers that will take part in them.
A ministry statement cited by Azerbaijani news agencies said ground forces of the two states will simulate joint operations in Baku and Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave from August 1-5. It said separate drills involving the Turkish and Azerbaijani air forces will be held in these and three other locations from July 29 through August 10.
The ministry also said that the war games will take place in accordance with a Turkish-Azerbaijani defense treaty and an annual plan of bilateral military cooperation. It did not link them with the July 12 outbreak of heavy fighting at a western section of Azerbaijan’s border with Armenia which lasted for several days and left at least 17 soldiers dead.
Turkey has blamed Armenia for the flare-up and reaffirmed its full support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Yerevan has decried the Turkish reaction, accusing Ankara of trying to destabilize the region, undercutting international efforts to resolve the conflict and posing a serious security threat to Armenia.