The strengthening in the Caucasus: why are Baku, Tbilisi and Ankara military exercises

Protection of pipelines

Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey intend to strengthen military cooperation and to hold the first joint exercise, said the Azerbaijani defense Minister Zakir Hasanov, after meeting with colleagues Tinatin Khidasheli and Ismet Yilmaz may 5, in Gabala in Azerbaijan.

The Ministers recognized the need for “organization of the trilateral format of cooperation in the military-educational sphere, development of cooperation in the field of cyber security, and conducting joint exercises on protection of oil and gas pipelines”, quoted Hasanov, the press service of the Azerbaijani defense Minister (quoted by TASS). To implement this plan, the parties will sign a trilateral Memorandum on cooperation in the defense sector, which, according to the statement Hasanov, will create the Foundation for the “tripartite activities have entered a new phase”.

From Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey are export pipeline (Baku — Tbilisi — Erzurum) and the pipeline (Baku — Tbilisi — Ceyhan pipeline), completed the construction of the railway Baku — Tbilisi — Kars. Between countries there is an agreement on close cooperation for the security of communications, and therefore an agreement was reached about the teachings on the protection, says Azerbaijani political scientist and member of the Parliament Rasim Musabayev.

The need for teachings on the protection of beneficial for the three countries of the objects is dictated by the recent events in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian political scientist, the Director of the Armenian Analytical center for globalization and regional cooperation Stepan Grigoryan. He recalls that during the fighting in early April and after the end of active combat phase of the defense Ministry of Azerbaijan announced about the readiness of attacks on the Karabakh capital of Stepanakert. In response to this, at an informal level Armenian experts and politicians point to the possibility of strikes on oil pipelines. “It scared Azerbaijan, Baku wanted to engage in protection is beneficial to all three countries of the pipelines of Turkey and Georgia”, — says Grigoryan.

The triple Alliance

Trilateral cooperation between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan have for a long time, reminds Musabayev. In 2007, Georgia took place the first meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Georgia Ilham Aliyev and Mikheil Saakashvili, with the Prime Minister, and now President of Turkey Recep Erdogan. Such meetings were held in 2012 and 2013, has repeatedly met the Ministers of foreign Affairs and defence, customs officials and Ministers in cases of emergency. The Sunday meeting of Ministers of defense became the fourth.

The defence Ministers discussed military-political situation in the region and issues related to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. “Emphasized the importance of peaceful conflict resolution and our approach to sovereignty, territorial integrity each other in the framework of international law”, — said Hasanov.

Turkey during the April four-day military confrontation between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh was on the side of Baku. “We pray that our Azerbaijani brothers were victorious in these battles with minimal losses. We will support Azerbaijan till the end” — quoted 3 April Business Insider the words of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Georgia’s position is differently interpreted Baku and Tbilisi. April 4, the Azerbaijani defense Ministry said that the Minister Khidasheli expressed support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. However, the Ministry of defence of Georgia in a follow-up message pointed out that the defence Minister only expressed the hope that the parties will be able to achieve a cease-fire and the process will return to the negotiating table.

Russian experts see in deepening cooperation of the three countries the prospect of a military Alliance. According to the President of the International center for geopolitical analysis Leonid Ivashov, Turkey and Azerbaijan have long been in Alliance with each other. Joining this Union of Georgia, the expert believes, is due to the fact that the Georgian side lost its independence in foreign policy. “Under US pressure, which have a strong influence, these countries form an anti — Russian Alliance,” Ivashov argues. The expert notes that this Alliance is short-lived as long as it interested US.

“This is a logical decision, and the Union’s long-term prospects”, — commented on the intentions of the three countries to sign the Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Institute for political and military analysis Alexander Khramchikhin.

“It is unlikely this initiative will be wider (will turn into a military Alliance), as between Turkey and Azerbaijan in 2010 are the military agreements, the level of interaction comparable to Armenian-Russian military cooperation”, — do not agree, the Armenian expert noted. The emphasis is on protection, cooperation can be expanded, as there is a need for coordination on the fight against terrorism and against any risks that may be exposed to both Turkey and Georgia and Azerbaijan, says the ISS. However, in his opinion, it is not necessary to talk about the formation of a resistance front military Alliance of Armenia and Russia, as Georgia has never sought to spoil relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan — with Russia.

History of doctrines

Georgia regularly conducts exercises with the US and NATO. May 11, near Tbilisi started a two-week Georgian-American exercise Noble Partner. They involve about 1,300 soldiers and officers, half of whom are American soldiers assigned to the 3rd infantry division and the 173rd airborne brigade of the United States. Also involved 500 Georgians from the 4th armoured brigade and 150 British military of the 3rd infantry regiment.

Georgia and the U.S. since 2011 were carried out in Vaziani exercises Agile Spirit. In 2015, the exercises were held under the auspices of NATO. They were attended by five countries — members of the Alliance: Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and the United States.

Turkey, which, according to the ranking Global Firepower, ranks among the top ten countries on the planet, has the largest of the three countries the army. According to the report of the 2016 Military Balance International Institute for strategic studies, the Turkish armed forces are serving 510,6 thousand (for comparison, in Russia — 798 thousand), excluding the reserve of 378.7 thousand people. Turkish armed are 2.5 thousand tanks, 7.8 thousand pieces of artillery and 364 of combat-ready aircraft.

The possibility of Georgia and Azerbaijan are much lower, according to the report. In the armed forces of Azerbaijan serve 66,9 thousand people and 300 thousand reserve squad, Georgia has the armed forces is 20.6 thousand people. Countries have 439 123 main battle tank, respectively. Azerbaijan 542 artillery and mortar installation from the Georgia — two times less. In addition, the air forces of both countries are much inferior to the capabilities of Turkey. Armed the Georgians have two su-25 attack aircraft, six helicopters Mi-24 and 17 Mi-8. Azerbaijan has a richer Arsenal of the air force: 14 fighter aircraft MiG-29, two bombers su-24 and 16 su-25. For safety in the skies over the two countries meet Russian system “Buk-M1”, “OSA” and s-300V.