Building on the triumphalism following their joint military assault against the small enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh last year, one in which the new Turco-Azeri “one nation, two states” federation with a joint population of 95 million attacked a small community of 145,000 people, the partners have launched a military exercise named after the founder of modern Turkey: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – 2021.
The war games, coordinated from the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, consist of live-fire exercises designed to “improve interoperability between the units of the armies of the two countries during combat operations,” such as those of last year and those in the planning stage.
They include 40 tanks and other armored vehicles, 20 artillery pieces and mortars, seven combat and other helicopters and three unmanned aerial vehicles.
Last week it was reported that part of the exercises would be held near the Armenian border; Azerbaijan has 1,000 troops inside Armenia since it invaded the provinces of Syunik and Gegharkunik last month.
This is the first joint military exercise since Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed the Shusha Declaration on June 15, the day after Erdoğan attended the NATO summit in Belgium. The declaration stressed expanding military cooperation between – the military integration of – the two pan-Turkic entities.
In its report on the ongoing exercise, Hürriyet said, “Turkey was a key backer of Azerbaijan during the last year’s 44-day Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia….”
Today the nation’s press reports that Turkey has signed a deal to provide fellow NATO member Albania with Bayraktar TB2 drones of the sort used with devastating effect against Nagorno-Karabakh last year. The sale was made after Albanian Interior Minister Bledar Çuçi and military officials from his nation visited Turkey recently.
Ankara has already supplied the drones to Azerbaijan, Ukraine (for use in the war in the Donbass) and Qatar and will soon deliver them to NATO member Poland.
Daily Sabah states Turkish authorities claim the country has become the fourth-largest manufacturer of drones in the world. The newspaper also said that the Turkish drone has “a record altitude of 27,030 feet for over 24 hours in the air and can carry 150 kilograms (over 330 pounds) of payload,” and can operate in daylight and at night.
Hurriyet also reports today that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov will meet tomorrow in Antalya where Turkey recently held the three-day Antalya Diplomacy Forum.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the two foreign ministers will discuss “the situation in the South Caucasus, Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Central Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, and Black Sea regions, as well as Syria and Libya.”
The report also indicates – and this explains a lot – that from January to April of this year bilateral trade between Russia and Turkey increased by 22% to over $9 billion. Who is Lavrov to quibble over the fate of Russian allies in Armenia and elsewhere when there’s good money to be made?
The Russian Foreign Ministry also confirmed that the two sides will discuss cooperation in the military-technical field. Perhaps Moscow can sell more anti-aircraft weapons to Turkey, which shot down its Sukhoi Su-24M, or to its adjunct Azerbaijan, which shot down its Mi-2 helicopter over Armenia. War is such a good business, why let minor incidents get in the way of a lucrative partnership?