The Turkish military believed that Russia would back Yerevan against Baku in the event of a conventional war and that a protracted crisis could escalate the clashes in the region, a classified military communiqué obtained by Nordic Monitor has revealed.
According to the military communiqué on a training program for the Turkish Armed Forces in 2015-2016, Hulusi Akar, the then-chief of general staff and current defense minister, underlined the possibility of a conventional war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In the directive addressed to the relevant military forces and the coast guard command in June 2016, Akar said Russia could support Armenia against Azerbaijan in the event of a conventional war and that Turkey should thus back the Azerbaijani armed forces by providing military training and organizing joint military exercises.
The military directive was discovered in a court case file in Ankara to which prosecutor Serdar Coşkun had attached classified documents in the investigation. They were collected from General Staff headquarters during an investigation into a failed coup on July 15, 2016.
Ankara-Baku military relations have gained momentum, and Azerbaijan has become an important market for Turkish defense contractors in recent years. A year after the military directive, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed an agreement in which the countries pledged to deepen bilateral relations in various defense fields, during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s official visit to attend the Turkey-Azerbaijan High Level Cooperation Council, held in Baku on October 31, 2017.
In the accord, both countries pledge to cooperate in improving defense industry capabilities through more effective cooperation in the fields of development, production and procurement, and maintenance of military and defense materiel as well as technical and logistical support, information sharing and research in the field.
Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov recently announced that Baku was ready to purchase unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) from Turkey, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Speaking to a local TV broadcaster about Azerbaijan’s new purchases for its armed forces, Hasanov also confirmed that the Turkish government would provide financial support for the purchase in accordance with a military financial cooperation protocol signed by Hasanov and his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, during President Erdoğan’s official visit to Baku on February 25, 2020.
According to the deal, which was approved by Azerbaijan’s parliament on May 31, Turkey will provide a total of 200 million Turkish lira, equivalent to around $30 million, to its Caspian ally for procuring goods and services for military purposes from Turkish defense industry companies.
Azerbaijan is an important market for Turkish defense suppliers, and defense industry cooperation is seen by the Turkish government as a fundamental element of a larger trade framework. In 2019 Turkey and Azerbaijan had a trade volume of nearly $4.5 billion, and their goal is to increase it to $15 billion by 2023.
Following border clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops in which four Azerbaijani soldiers were killed, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called on Armenia to “pull its head together,” saying that Turkey stands with Azerbaijan “with all it has,” Anadolu reported. “Whatever solution Baku prefers for the occupied lands and Karabakh, we will stand by Azerbaijan,” he stressed.
Similarly, Akar received Azerbaijani Deputy Defense Minister and Commander of the Air Force Lt. Gen. Ramiz Tahirov and commander of the Special Forces of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, Gen. Karam Mustafayev last week in Ankara.
At the meeting, also attended by Chief of the Turkish General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler and other top ministry officials, Akar and Azerbaijani officials stressed the brotherhood between the two countries.
Akar stressed, against the backdrop of the attacks by neighboring Armenia, that Turkey would always stand with its Azerbaijani brothers.
On the security of Azerbaijan and the region, Akar said Turkey and the Turkish Armed Forces would continue to do what they have to do, adding, “No one should doubt that.”
Military communiqué signed by the then-Turkish General Staff Hulusi Akar:DİREKTİF v1