BAKU — The armed forces of Turkey and Azerbaijan are set to conduct large-scale joint military exercises on Wednesday.
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.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry expressed concern over the drills. A ministry spokeswoman said they are part of Baku’s “provocative actions” aimed at obstructing international mediators’ efforts to de-escalate the situation at the border and kick-start Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.
Immediately after the border clashes, a high-level Azerbaijani army delegation flew to Ankara for talks with Turkey’s top military and defense industry officials. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told it that the Armenians “will certainly pay for what they have done” to his country’s main regional ally. Another Turkish official expressed readiness to supply Turkish-made military drones and missiles to the Azerbaijani army.