Monday, 24 Jun 2024

Azerbaijan’s military buildup sparks concerns as Putin-like symbols appear

Azerbaijan’s military has been boosting its forces near Armenia, and its vehicles have been painted with symbols reminiscent of those employed by the Russian army before its entry into Ukraine.

The Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) published open-source intelligence which appears to verify Armenian claims that Azerbaijan is preparing for conflict.

CIR observed an increase in flights between Azerbaijan and a military airstrip in Israel, one of Azerbaijan’s allies, in combination with increased activity at Azerbaijani military bases.

There have also been military manoeuvres by Iran, which has an alliance with Armenia.

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The military symbols of Azerbaijan are an inverted “A” and a stylised “F,” which are mostly seen on army infantry trucks and armoured personnel carriers.

These symbols have not been formally explained by Azerbaijan. However, before its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military employed the “V” and “Z” marks to identify fighting groups.

Azerbaijani nationalists have used these military marks as avatars and logos in a similar way, reports the Telegraph.

Vahan Kostanyan, Armenia’s deputy foreign minister said: “We are concerned that a new war could start, or at least a large-scale build-up of aggression.”

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Azerbaijan has repeatedly refuted the country is planning an invasion to seize the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh which has been under the control of ethnic Armenians since a successful armed separatist campaign which ended in 1994.

While that conflict left much of the surrounding territory under Armenian control, Azerbaijan reclaimed it in a six-week war with Armenia in 2020.

However, Nagorno-Karabakh remained outside of Azerbaijani authority.

Following the armistice that ended the war, Russia sent around 3,000 peacekeeping soldiers to Nagorno-Karabakh with the mission of keeping the enclave’s only road to Armenia open.

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Azerbaijan, on the other hand, began blocking this road in December, claiming that Armenians were using it to carry weapons and materials.

Because of the siege, Nagorno-Karabakh experienced acute food shortages.

Azerbaijan proposed an alternative route for food shipments through the town of Agdam, but local authorities in the region rejected it, fearing it was a plan to absorb Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia claims that the Kremlin is ignoring Azerbaijani aggression because Russia did not support its military action in Ukraine and has shifted its diplomatic efforts to Western countries. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recently deployed his wife to Kyiv with humanitarian aid and welcomed American troops for a military drill, both of which enraged the Kremlin.

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