BAKU — Azerbaijan has launched large-scale military maneuvers ahead of an expected first meeting between President Ilham Aliyev and new Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said on March 11 that up to 10,000 troops, 500 tanks, 300 missile systems, aircraft, and other military equipment will take part in the five-day exercises.
According to an official statement, the Azeri troops will carry out an offensive plan, trying to defeat the conventional enemy in a number of directions. It is reported that new weapons acquired by Azerbaijan in recent years will also be used during the current military exercises.
Spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry Artsrun Hovannisyan stated on his official Facebook account on Friday, these military drills by Azerbaijan represent at attempt to exert pressure in the context of the possible meeting between the two countries leaders.
“In accordance with the Vienna document, notifications should be issued on military drills if they involve at least 9,000 people, 250 tanks or 500 military armored vehicles, 250 self-propelled and towed artillery weapons, mortars and multiple rocket launchers. We did not receive any notifications from OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] and consider the planned military exercise to be an attempt to exert pressure in the context of the meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev,” Hovannisyan said.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said the drills “do not contribute to the creation of an environment conducive to peace.”
No date has been decided yet for the meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but both sides have voiced a willingness for them to take place.