Azerbaijan has refused to allow a German military-transport plane carrying Armenian soldiers returning from Afghanistan to fly over its territory, a high-ranking source in the Armenian Defense Ministry claimed on Wednesday.
The 45 servicemen were due to arrive in Yerevan earlier in the day after completing a six-month tour of duty in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. The area is part of the German-led Northern Command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan.
The German Defense Ministry did not immediately confirm or deny the alleged Azerbaijani ban.
The source, who asked not to be identified, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that Azerbaijan similarly refused last year to let NATO military aircraft bound for Afghanistan enter its airspace from Armenia. “With these actions, Azerbaijan is probably trying to close possibilities of use of Armenia’s airspace and airports for shipments to Afghanistan,” he said, accusing Baku of blocking a key ISAF supply line.
The source added that official Yerevan is now considering retaliatory measures such as a closure of Armenian airspace to Afghanistan-bound NATO planes making stopovers in Baku.
He could not say where the departing Armenian army contingent is now and when it will be flown back home. Nor was it clear whether a second rotation of Armenian troops, which has undergone additional training at a German military base recently, has already been deployed in Kunduz.