Armenia will hold this October what its Defense Ministry described on Thursday as unprecedented military exercises involving thousands of troops and army reservists.
The ministry also announced that more Armenian army fortifications along the border with Azerbaijan have been beefed up in recent months.
“It will be a big exercise,” the ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “It will be unprecedented in the sense that we have not had [war games] of that scale before.”
Armenia - Battle tanks lined up for a military exercise, undated
Hovannisian said the one-week drills will be marked by “quite a large participation” of reservists. Scores of them, including young Armenians demobilized from the armed forces recently and even men aged 50 or over, will be called up for that purpose, he said.
“In recent years the participation of reservists has steadily increased,” explained the official. “We are in a situation where our reservists must always be actively engaged in military training.”
The Armenian military already announced in April 2011 that the training of its reserve personnel will be more regular and intensive from now on. Thousands of reservists have spent up to a week in military camps since then.
Hovannisian stressed that the upcoming exercises were planned in advance and are not directly related to the tense situation on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan and “the line of contact” around Nagorno-Karabakh highlighting the growing risk of another Armenian-Azerbaijani war. “There is no need to panic and make unnecessary speculations,” he said.
The Armenian military made similar statements in late June when it held, jointly with other state bodies, command-and-staff exercises that simulated their coordinated response to the outbreak of a full-scale war, including a general mobilization.
Meanwhile, one Azerbaijani soldier was killed on Wednesday and another one wounded the following day in fresh ceasefire violations reported by Azerbaijan from different sections the Karabakh frontline. The Defense Ministry in Yerevan and Karabakh’s Armenia-backed armed forces reported no fighting there, however.
The Karabakh Armenian military held three-day exercises earlier this month. It said the drills demonstrated the “adequate preparedness” of its forces for a possible war with Azerbaijan.
Armenia - Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian (second from left) inspects Armenian army positions on the border with Azerbaijan, 08Aug2012.
Deadly skirmishes have also been a regular occurrence this year along the westernmost sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier. About a dozen soldiers on both sides were killed in a series of armed incidents there in early June. Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian visited the area on August 8 to inspect what his press office called “large-scale construction work” carried out on Armenian frontline positions.
A statement by the Defense Ministry said Ohanian toured army posts in southern Armenia bordering Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave for the same purpose on Tuesday and Wednesday. It said he examined new defense fortifications built there.
Ohanian was quoted as noting “positive trends” in the army ranks, including a stronger “physical and spiritual protection of soldiers.” The minister also spoke of “remarkable achievements” in the fight against army crime which the military command appears to have toughened since 2010.