Paper Links Hawkish Azeri Stance On Karabakh With US Support

MOSCOW (BBC)–Receiving a Pakistan armed forces delegation headed by Gen. Sayed Sharif on May 31–Azeri Defense Minister Col-Gen Safar Abiyev made a frankly sensational statement about the possibility of restoring Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity by force–reported the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper.

Observers’ forecasts that the cessation of combat operations in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1994 was a temporary phenomenon are thus coming to pass. The whiff of gunpowder is in the air again. Why?

Since the end of the military phase of the Karabakh conflict–Baku has substantially improved its armed forces’ effectiveness.

More than 5,000 Azeri servicemen have undergone officer training in Pakistan–Turkey–the US and other NATO countries.

Moreover–the troops have undergone major reform. The Azeri army has switched to a brigade footing and Turkish standards for waging combat operations.

Turkish military advisers operate in its sub units. Unlike many other CIS countries–military exercises are regularly held in Azerbaijan and sufficient fuel–lubricants and other materials required for proper combat training are allocated.

Nor can one fail to notice that the current militaristic tenor of Baku’s statemen’s is also connected with external factors. Azerbaijan was recently visited by Stephen Sestanovich–special adviser to the US secretary of state on newly independent states–who said that the United States supports Baku’s stance aimed at restoring the country’s territorial integrity.

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