Turkey, Azerbaijan deny establishment of joint military bases - report

Turkey and Azerbaijan have denied reports they are establishing joint military bases which, if confirmed, would shift the balance of power in the Caucasus, Jamestown research foundation said on Wednesday.  

The new bases were first reported on Jan. 8 by pro-Azeri government news outlet Haqqin, before subsequently being removed, Jamestown said. The Azeri Ministry of Defence dismissed the claim in an official statement.

However, Jamestown said there was no disputing the “notable Turkish military assistance to Azerbaijan following the latter’s recent military confrontation with Armenia”.

Renewed fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh broke out in September, killing more than 5,400 before a ceasefire agreement was reached the following month.  

Turkish military technology and expertise, including the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles and Syrian mercenary fighters, played a decisive role in Azerbaijan’s successful territorial gains in the conflict. And Turkish troops have since been deployed to the region under a Russian-brokered deal. 

“The Turkish military presence in Azerbaijan is currently made up of approximately 600 advisors and instructors, including around 120 Air Force specialists scattered among the Gabala airbase as well as airfields in Giandzha, Yevlakh and Dalla,” Jamestown said, citing Russian media reports.

But growing Turkish influence in the region has produced “a seemingly inevitable Russian pushback”, with Moscow planning to reopen Stepanakert airport in Nagorno-Karabakh, a move that would bolster Armenia’s position in the region, the foundation said.