The armed forces of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh practiced joint military operations for a fifth consecutive day on Monday in exercises which they said are involving tens of thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks.
The drills are apparently taking place near the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” east of Karabakh. The Defense Ministry in Yerevan said they are led by Bako Sahakian, the president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and “coordinated” by the the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, General Yuri Khachaturov.
A ministry statement said the “large-scale operational-tactical exercises” are involving 17,000 Armenian soldiers, 250 tanks and armored personnel carriers and 550 artillery systems.
In a separate statement, the Karabakh Defense Army claimed that as many as 30,000 of its soldiers and reservists are taking part in the drills, backed up by some 600 tanks and armored vehicles and over 1,800 artillery and anti-aircraft systems. The reported figures may well account for the Karabakh Armenians’ entire military power.
“The military exercises are being held according to plan,” said the Armenian Defense Ministry. “The participating army units are properly accomplishing their combat tasks.”
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry protested against the war games in “the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” shortly after they got underway on November 6. The ministry denounced them as a fresh manifestation of the Armenian “policy of occupation.”
The Azerbaijani military reportedly held similar exercises near the Karabakh “line of contact” earlier this year. According to the Turan news agency, the commander of Turkey’s special military forces, General Zekai Aksakalli, inspected Azerbaijani army units stationed along the frontline during a weekend visit to Azerbaijan.