Armenia’s Defense Minister David Tonoyan told ambassadors of France and Russia, two of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries, that Yerevan will be monitoring the scheduled military drills by Turkey and Azerbaijan that began Wednesday, saying the exercises are part of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s “destabilizing” actions. A similar meeting was also held by representatives of Iran in Yerevan.
An opening ceremony was held Wednesday to welcome Turkish soldiers at the Umit Bridge at the Turkey-Azerbaijan border in Nakhichevan, after the Turkish forces arrived in Baku with a Turkish Air Force plane to take part in military exercises announced Monday by Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry.
“Military, attack and combat helicopters of the Turkish Armed Forces arrived on a military transport aircraft, are brought to a state of readiness for Live-Fire Flight-Tactical Exercises at the military airfield of the Combined Arms Army,” said a ministry statement on Wednesday.
The exercises are expected to last for 13 days in various parts of Azerbaijan, including areas bordering Artsakh and Armenia, including several days of military drills slated to take place in Nakhichevan
In a meeting on Tuesday with the Russian Ambassador to Armenia Sergey Kopirkin, Tonoyan presented a briefing on the recent situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border, on the line of contact between the Artsakh and Azerbaijani forces, emphasizing Russia’s constructive and stabilizing role.
Tonoyan also shared his assessment on the political and military steps taken by Azerbaijan and Turkey to destabilize the security situation in the region, noting that the Armenian Armed Forces, as well as the units of the Armenian-Russian joint group, continue to monitor, analyze and be ready for any development of the situation using all means of intelligence.
Kopirkin reaffirmed that Russia is taking all necessary steps to stabilize the region.
The two also discussed bilateral military cooperation, including joint combat training, the organizing of military exercises to be held in Armenia and Russia.
On Wednesday, Tonoyan met with French Ambassador to Armenia Jonathan Lacotte and emphasized the important role the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs Russia, US and France play in easing tensions and ensuring the continuation of the negotiation process.
Referring to the Turkish-Azerbaijani joint military exercises, Tonoyan explained that from a military point of view, the tactical nature of the drill did not worry Armenia, adding it is important for the exercises to not turn into provocations in the immediate vicinity of Armenia’s borders, defense structures and other infrastructure.
Lacotte, reportedly, praised Yerevan’s balanced approach to the tension, which he said were devoid of nationalist overtures and military rhetoric.
Later on Wednesday, Tonoyan met with the Iran’s newly appointed Ambassador to Armenia Abbas Badakhshan Zohouri, who was accompanied by the embassy’s military attaché Mehdi Vejdani. The meeting focused on the Turkey-Azerbaijan war games and military cooperation between Iran and Armenia.