Azerbaijan and Armenia have each over the last weeks participated in separate military exercises – Azerbaijan with both Turkey and with Turkey and Pakistan; and Armenia in Russia and Belarus’s Zapad-2021 military games with the inclusion of various states.
On 9 September, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence reported that the Azerbaijan and Turkey had conducted joint tactical live fire exercises in the Lachin region – close to the border with Armenia, through which the Lachin corridor runs, connecting Armenia to the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The statement explained that Azerbaijani and Turkish special forces had, amongst other things, practices conducting reconnaissance in difficult terrain, setting up ambushes on the roads, and detecting and destroying sabotage groups in the area. It has been reported that this was the first time that Turkish troops had been openly deployed in territory that had returned to Azerbaijani control last year. Responding to a question about the exercises by Russia’s Sputnik news agency on 7 September, Vahan Hunanyan, the spokesperson for the Armenian foreign ministry, said Armenia considered the exercises to be “disrupting the steps towards de-escalation, which are inconsistent with the spirit of the Statement of November 9, 2020, and undermine the efforts of establishing lasting peace, security and stability in the region.”
This week, the armed forces of Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey have been conducting separate joint military exercises. Whilst Turkey and Azerbaijan have held several military exercises throughout the year, the “Three Brothers-2021” exercises are the first including Pakistan. They were launched on Sunday (12 September) at a ceremony in Baku with the participation of representatives of the special forces of the three countries and will continue until 20 September.
Whilst Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan have long held amicable relations, consistently supporting each other on the international stage, they recently appear to be deepening further. After the “Three Brothers” exercises were announced in June, the speakers of each of the three national parliaments held a trilateral meeting in Baku in July where they signed a declaration to boost co-operation.
Meanwhile, a contingent of the Armenian armed forces has taken part in Russia and Belarus’s Zapad-2021 military exercises. In a statement by the Armenian Ministry of Defence on Monday (13 September), it was reported that Armenia was taking part in the military games with a contingent consisting of tank, motorised rifle, and military-artillery subdivisions. Alongside the army corps and military units of the Western Military District of Russia, military units of Armenia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan and Mongolia are participating in the exercises.