State Department to Congress: Azerbaijan lacks transparency for large-scale military exercises

The United States continues to encourage Azerbaijan to be more transparent about its military exercises, including by providing additional details about their size and purpose, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

The State Department has submitted to Congress the unclassified 2020 Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, also known as the Compliance Report.

The report contains analysis and findings regarding the US’ and other nations’ compliance with and adherence to arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements and commitments in which the United States is a party or participant.

According to the full unclassified 2020 Compliance Report, Washington last fall shared its concerns with Azerbaijan about "lack of transparency for large-scale exercises".

Azerbaijan, says the report, "failed to provide notification of at least one major military exercise or activity during calendar year 2019", as it's required to do so by the Vienna Document on Confidence, known as VD11.

"Per Vienna Document Plus Decision No. 9/12, participating states will notify annually at least one major military exercise or activity if no military activity otherwise meets Chapter V notification thresholds. Azerbaijan conducts and publicizes exercises, but continues to fail to provide notification of at least one major military exercise or activity each year," reads the report.

In its turn, Azeri government noted in statements at the OSCE’s Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC) that announcements on its MoD website included personnel and equipment that were outside the scope of the Vienna Document and that it did not have anything further to add on the issue.

According to the website of the Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense and the Azeri media, the country held a large-scale exercise from March 11-15, 2019, that involved: up to 10,000 personnel; up to 500 tanks, armored vehicles, and other vehicles; up to 300 rocket and artillery systems; and 20 military aircraft.

In addition, Azerbaijan held another large-scale exercise from September 16-20, 2019, involving up to 10,000 personnel; more than 100 tanks and armored vehicles; 120 rocket and artillery systems; and 20 military aircraft and drones.

The MoD website and local press also reported that the country conducted the exercise “Indestructible Brotherhood-2019,” and that it involved: up to 5,000 military personnel; 200 tanks and other armored vehicles; up to 180 mortars and rocket and artillery systems; and 21 military aircraft and helicopters – with Turkey from June 7-11, 2019, in the Naxcivan exclave of Azerbaijan.

"Azerbaijan should have reported at least one exercise to fulfill the VD11 requirement... The United States will continue to highlight with Azerbaijan, bilaterally and at OSCE meetings, the importance of complete and timely notification of military activities, particularly annual notification of at least one exercise or activity in the absence of any that exceed Chapter V thresholds." the report says.

"Military activities that are unreported or incompletely reported undermine the Vienna Document’s objective of building confidence through increased transparency," the State Department believes.

Alex Raufoglu

Washington D.C.  


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