By Emil Danielyan
Nagorno-Karabakh’s armed forces will start on Tuesday annual exercises which the leadership of the Armenian-populated disputed region says are aimed at testing and improving their strength.
In a statement on Monday, the Defense Ministry of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic said the ten-day war games will take place to “ascertain the combat readiness of the Defense Army when it is brought to a state of highest alert.” They are also meant to improve “the process of troops’ inter-operability during defensive and counter-offensive operations,” the statement said.
The Karabakh military also said that the exercises are part of its regular training plan for this year, implying that they are not related to the recent series of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks or clashes along the border with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Officials in Stepanakert told RFE/RL separately that they will be attended by army reservists and involve the use of live ammunition by light and heavy weapons.
Although the precise venue of the drills was not specified, they are likely to take place near the main Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact east of Karabakh. The decade-long regime of ceasefire has largely held there, but sporadic skirmishes continue to claim lives on both sides of the frontline.