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AZERBAIJAN’S MILITARY OPERATION IN NAKHCHIVAN: LESS THAN MEETS THE EYE

The Azeri Times

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Originally published by Eurasianet

Officials in Azerbaijan have been lauding a “historic” military operation, demonstrating the “professionalism,” “heroism and courage,” and “fighting spirit” of their soldiers.

It remains unclear, however, exactly what sort of operation has taken place.

In late May, reports emerged that Azerbaijani forces had advanced within a no-man’s-land between the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Armenia. They set up new positions on a number of mountaintops and hilltops which gave them a greater ability to target Armenia’s main north-south highway. But Baku, rarely shy about trumpeting any sort of military advance, initially remained uncharacteristically reticent.

They are no longer reticent. The “Nakhchivan Operation,” or sometimes the “Günnüt Operation” (after a village in the contested area), has quickly entered the annals of Azerbaijani military glory. The Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense on June 20 released a 31-minute video devoted to it, and it has quickly become a staple of Baku’s military rhetoric.

“The Nakhchivan operation was carried out with high professionalism. Azerbaijani servicemen once again showed heroism and courage. We liberated strategic heights,” President Ilham Aliyev said in an address at a June 26 military parade in Baku. “The Nakhchivan operation once again showed that the Azerbaijani army is a strong army.”

Azerbaijani officials have been talking about the Nakhchivan “operation” in the same terms as the territorial gains it won during the heavy 2016 fighting with Armenia along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh, the territory disputed between the two sides.

Eurasianet
Eurasianet.

“The success achieved in Agdere, Fizuli and Jabrayil directions in April 2016, and also in May this year in Nakhchivan, became possible as a result of comprehensive reforms conducted thanks to the care and attention given by the supreme commander-in-chief of our army,” Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov said on June 22. “Both historical moments that I noted clearly demonstrate that the Azerbaijani army exceeds the Armenian army in terms of combat readiness, high fighting spirit, moral and psychological state and professionalism.”

While the details of the Azerbaijani advance remain unclear, the lofty rhetoric seems to be a significant exaggeration. Whatever new territory Azerbaijan controls militarily was never claimed by Armenia, and it’s not clear if there was any fighting. Armenian Defense Ministry Spokesman Artsrun Oganesyan told TASS on May 20 that one Azerbaijani soldier was killed as he was taking part in “engineering works.”

“Azerbaijan’s armed forces conducted active engineering works at certain sections of the border with Armenia seeking to improve their positions,” Oganesyan said. “Invigoration of engineering works and other provocative actions entail shootouts and, as a consequence, human casualties.”

Azerbaijan claimed to have “liberated” 11,000 hectares in the operation, and published photos of what it said were former residents of Günnüt visiting their family members’ graves for the first time since 1992.

In the face of the Azerbaijani PR offensive, Armenia has responded mockingly. “Why such modesty?” tweeted the spokesman for Armenia’s Foreign Ministry, Tigran Balayan, to the territorial claims from Azerbaijan. “Go ahead and claim 110,000 hectares. There are those who can’t wait to confirm and like.”

From Tigran Balayan's Twitter feed @tbalayan
From Tigran Balayan’s Twitter feed @tbalayan.

Armenian officials also released video on June 11 that they claimed showed Armenian military officers escorting the Azerbaijani villagers to the Günnüt cemetery in an effort to prove that Armenia still held the strategic high ground there.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has sought to downplay the advance. “In the strategic and tactical sense there have been no significant changes in Nakhchivan,” he said in a June 25 Facebook live video. “In fact, we have the same situation that we had several months ago.”

Some skeptical Azerbaijanis also saw the operation as more PR than military victory. “Even the liberation of a single hilltop is broadcast to the nation as a ‘great victory,’ and the nation generally agrees,” wrote Shahin Rzaev, a Baku-based journalist, in an op-ed for the website JAM News. “It is possible that this is why the Azerbaijani media is making such a ruckus and creating euphoria over the establishment of control over a village which is hard to find even on a map.”

Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit.

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Armenia

Armenia provocation: Villages in Tovuz shelled

The Azeri Times

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Armenia committed provocation against civilians on the front line, informs the press-service of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry.

Starting from the evening of September 14 until the morning of September 15, the units of the Armenian armed forces, using weapons of different calibre, including artillery mount, committed provocation on Tovuz, Terter and Aghdam directions.

The enemy, in particular, subjected to fire the positions of the Azerbaijan Army, stationed in the direction of the villages of Munjuglu, Kokhanebi, Asrik Jirdakhan and Garalar of Tovuz region, as well as civilians living in these villages.

There are no casualties among servicemen and the population of Azerbaijan. Damage has been caused to several houses, property of the population and civil infrastructure.

The implementation of such provocative actions by Armenian side on the eve of the significant events and holidays celebrated in Azerbaijan is purposeful.

The Ministry of Defence reports that as a result of urgent retaliatory actions undertaken by the units of the Azerbaijan Army, the enemy’s activity was suppressed. The military-political leadership of Armenia bears all responsibility for the destruction and losses of the enemy.

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Armenia

Azerbaijani Army prepares for offensive in Karabakh (Large-scale exercises)

The Azeri Times

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In accordance with the plan approved by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev, large-scale operational-tactical exercises with the participation of various military branches of troops, Army Corpses, and formations of the Azerbaijan Army will be held under the supervision of the Minister of Defence, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov from 17th to 22nd of September.

As informs the press-service of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry. the exercises will involve more than 20,000 military personnel, more than 200 tanks and other armoured vehicles, more than 120 rocket and artillery mounts of different calibre, multiple launch rocket systems, and mortars, up to 10 fighter jets and bomber aircraft, up to 20 army aviation units for various purposes.

In the course of the exercises, the issues of the tank breakthrough of the enemy’s echeloned defence in several directions, the crushing defeat of armed groups and forward units of Armenia in the territory of Karabakh will be worked out, tasks will be fulfilled for the liberation of the occupied territories by the destruction of military and strategic facilities located on the territory of the enemy by rocket-artillery and air strikes.

The military personnel’s possession skills of the military equipment and weapons that have been adopted into the armament of the Azerbaijan Army over the past year will also be checked.

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Armenia

Pashinyan speaks of annexing Karabakh to Armenia

The Azeri Times

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During a meeting with Armenian businessmen in Moscow, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that the so-called ‘Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’ (‘NKR’) in the future will have to become a full-fledged part of the Armenian territory. This is reported by Regnum news agency.

According to him, Armenia is not ready to make concessions on disputes with Azerbaijan about the territorial affiliation of Nagorno-Karabakh.

He also noted that ‘any concessions in this context will be perceived as nothing else but weakness,’ and that ‘the position on the territorial belonging of the region is immutable.’

This is a new statement by Nikol Pashin and another political adventure. Earlier, the Armenian PM stated that Armenia was not going to negotiate on behalf of ‘NKR’ and insisted that Karabakh separatists be recognised as a party to the conflict.

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