Azerbaijan begins military exercise as tensions with Armenia mount


Azerbaijan has launched an extensive military exercise amid mounting tensions with neighbouring Armenia.

Up to 15,000 soldiers as well as 300 tanks and other military vehicles are involved in the exercises which will last several days, the Defence Ministry announced on Sunday.

The military will also deploy 400 different missile and artillery systems, the ministry said while rejecting accusations made by Armenia over border violations as “completely unfounded.”

Armenia earlier said that Azerbaijani troops had occupied high ground in the southern region of Zyunik, which Armenia considers its own territory, calling the move an “absolutely unacceptable interference” on sovereign territories of the country.

Azerbaijan, however, retorted that the troops were to secure the actual border with the western neighbouring state in the high mountain area after an “improvement in weather conditions.”

On the weekend, Armenia threatened to react with “measures” if the Azerbaijani troops didn’t withdraw.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell called on both sides to hold back and to deescalate the situation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday also called on both countries to adhere to the ceasefire agreed in November.

In the most recent fighting in the South Caucasus that lasted from September 27 to November 9, Azerbaijan reclaimed large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory it had lost in the early 1990s. More than 6,000 people died in the clashes.

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