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January 14, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9141

Russian Military Expert Valyuzhenich: 'Through Azerbaijan, Erdogan Got Immediate Access Points To Three Strategic Directions For Turkey: Armenia, Russia And Iran'

January 14, 2021
Iran, Russia, Turkey, South Caucasus | Special Dispatch No. 9141

Moskovsky Komsomolets published an article titled " Flight Paths of Turkish Aircraft  to Azerbaijan Disclose Erdogan's Military Plans" featuring an interview by the paper's Fyodor Danilchenko with military expert Alexey Valyuzhenich. The article argued that while the January 11, 2021, joint statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on the development of Karabakh was well and good, it ignored the elephant, who was not in the room – Turkish President Recep Erdogan. Turkey has secured an enhanced military presence in Azerbaijan and it is cementing it with an incessant airlift of military supplies to three key locations – Qabala, Lankaran and Ganja. Via these locations, Turkey can exercise surveillance over the Persian Gulf region, large parts of Russia as well as neighboring Armenia. While Azerbaijan denies that it intends to accommodate Turkish bases, there is nothing to prevent Turkey from building the facilities for Azerbaijan and then sharing the intel.

The complete article follows below:[1]

"The leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia met in Moscow. Aliyev, Pashinyan and Putin discussed the post-war settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh. But this issue aside, there is another one which is of great importance for peace in the region and for Russia as well –Turkey’s enhanced military presence in Azerbaijan. “MK” asked an expert what goals the Turkish was government pursuing in the region.

"During December-January, observers recorded unprecedented activity by Turkish Air Force cargo planes of in the skies of Azerbaijan. The airbridge between the two countries is active round-the-clock; military cargo is being delivered to the Azerbaijani army’s airfields throughout the country. Experts believe, that Turkey intends to create several military bases in Transcaucasia, however, Baku denies these claims.

"The armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh ended with the victory of Azerbaijan, but the post-war world prepares many new challenges for the region. Notably, Turkey and Azerbaijan intend to promote cooperation in the military-political sphere, which may change the balance of power in Transcaucasia. This is evidenced by airspace monitoring services data, showing an increased intensity of air traffic between the two countries.

"According to the FlightRadar-24 service, during the past few weeks, Turkish military aviation has established an uninterrupted supply of deliveries to Azerbaijan’s territory. An airbridge between the two countries has been established via the airspace, bypassing Armenia.

"Turkish military cargo aircrafts deliver goods to Azerbaijani airfields in Qabala, Lankaran and Ganja. [Turkish] aviation provides round-the-clock service; some cargo planes make three or four flights per day.

"Assessing the activity of the Turkish Air Forces, experts expect that Turkish military bases will be created in Transcaucasia. However, Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense has denied these claims.

"The country’s defense ministry stressed that Azerbaijan is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and does not intend to accommodate foreign military contingents on its territory.

"[However,] Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense did not comment on Turkish Air Force activity in the skies of Azerbaijan. The Turkish media was also silent on the issue. A few publications, that had previously published information about the creation of the Turkish army’s military facilities in the Transcaucasia deleted their publications.

"At the request of “MK” military expert Alexey Valyuzhenich assessed the situation [in Transcaucasia]. According to the expert, Transcaucasia is a key region for Ankara, and the appearance of the Turkish military there is just a matter of time."


Alexey Valyuzhenich (Source: Vk.faces)

– First of all, let's see the destinations, to which Turkish planes deliver cargo: Qabala, Lankaran and Ganja. The three cities are situated in three strategic directions for Turkey. In Qabala, the largest radar station of the missile attack early-warning system - the “Daryal radar” was situated. It was created already back in Soviet times. In its day. [the radar] tracked of NATO activity near the Soviet borders. Its activity radius covers Iran, Iraq, and the strategically important waters of the Persian Gulf. Until 2012, our [Russian] military worked there, but now its premises are unattended.


The Qabala radar station (Source: Russian.Eurasianet.org)

"I also want to add that in the 2000s, the United States took a close look at this facility, so it is a very valuable strategic facility. Legally speaking, there may be no Turkish military base, however Turkish officers could access the facility, revitalize it and start exploitng it for their own purposes. Purely hypothetically.

– Can it be used to "monitor" Russian territory?

– During Soviet times (for obvious reasons) this scenario was not even considered [Azerbaijan was part of the USSR]. But now [the Daryal radar] might be used quite readily for this purpose. Its [range] might suffice to cover areas up to the city of Rostov, or even further, and definitely the waters of the Caspian and Black Seas.

Now let’s talk about Ganja. According to unconfirmed reports, a control center of Turkish combat drones that operated in Nagorno-Karabakh was situated there. The Armenians tried several times to attack this base with their rockets, but failed. It is quite possible that the necessary infrastructure can be deployed there, but this time on permanent basis.

This base is a dagger hovering over Armenia. However, there is no need [for Turkey] to create a military base there. Rather, Turkey might help its allies to build everything, and at the same time share its specialists."


Turkish lawmakers observe the result of Armenian airstrikes in Ganja (Source: Hurriyetdailynews.com)

– And Lankaran, as it works out, will cover the Iranian direction?

– Not only Iran. A base for [Turkish combat] drones can also be deployed there, as well as radar stations, which can monitor Iran. I believe that Tehran will not be happy about this. Moreover, Lankaran is also a port-city on the Caspian Sea.

Thus, as it turns out, through Azerbaijan, Erdogan got immediate access points to three strategic directions for Turkey: Armenia, Russia and Iran. At the same time, I want to emphasize again, in order to achieve this, it is not necessary to build facilities precisely for the Turkish army. Turkey is simply helping [its] allies and can rely on these to 'fraternally' share information in the future.

 

 

[1] Mk.ru, January 11, 2021.

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