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Karabakh Defenses ‘Bolstered After April War’


Nagorno-Karabakh -- An ethnic Armenian soldier stands guard in a trench at artillery positions near the Nagorno-Karabakh's town of Martuni, April 7, 2016

Nagorno-Karabakh -- An ethnic Armenian soldier stands guard in a trench at artillery positions near the Nagorno-Karabakh's town of Martuni, April 7, 2016

Nagorno-Karabakh has built new defense fortifications following last April’s heavy fighting with Azerbaijani forces, a senior official in Stepanakert said on Tuesday.

Karabakh’s government and military began fortifying Armenian positions immediately after a Russian-brokered agreement halted the four-day hostilities that left at least 190 soldiers from both sides dead. Virtually all local construction firms were mobilized for the effort.

RFE/RL correspondents witnessed some of that construction work when they visited various sections of the “line of contact” around Karabakh in April.

“The enemy’s military operations showed that the kind of military engineering structures that are needed for classic warfare are not sufficient,” said Artur Aghabekian, the deputy prime minister of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). “The only way to counter enemy airstrikes is new and adequate fortifications.”

“You can say that a big task has been accomplished: the entire frontline is now fully equipped in the engineering sense,” Aghabekian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). Karabakh Armenian forces deployed there have also been provided with more modern night vision and communication equipment, he said.

Shortly after the “four-day war” with Azerbaijan, Aghabekian launched on behalf of the Karabakh leadership a fundraising campaign primarily aimed at buying new weapons for the NKR’s Armenian-backed Defense Army. It has raised about $10 million so far, mostly from ordinary Armenians in Karabakh, Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora.

Aghabekian admitted that the relatively modest sum is not enough to finance a military buildup planned by the authorities in Stepanakert. But he said half of that money has already been efficiently used for bolstering Karabakh’s defenses.

Other Karabakh officials said in April that the Defense Army will soon receive more weapons from Armenia’s armed forces, with which it is closely integrated.

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