Russia monitors talks at Turkish military base in Azerbaijan, Kremlin says

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attend signing ceremony in Shusha, Nagorno-Karabakh region, Azerbaijan on June 15, 2021. Presidential Press Office / Document via REUTERS

MOSCOW, June 18 (Reuters) – Moscow is closely monitoring developments around a potential Turkish military base in Azerbaijan, a move that could force Russia to take measures to ensure its own security and interests, the Kremlin said on Friday. .

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was in close contact with NATO member Turkey to stabilize the situation in the South Caucasus, where last year’s fighting saw l The Turkish-backed Azeri army is driving Armenian forces out of parts of the territory controlled since the 1990s in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Turkey and Azerbaijan agreed on Tuesday to increase cooperation in the military field, signing a declaration in the town of Shusha, which ethnic Armenians call Shushi, territory conquered by Azerbaijan in the fighting of the year. last.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said the statement was about cooperation on political, economic, trade and energy issues.

“But the most important is the cooperation agreement between Azerbaijan and Turkey in the field of defense industry and mutual military assistance,” Aliyev said Tuesday at a press conference alongside Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan was quoted as saying on Thursday by NTV television that he was not ruling out a Turkish military base in Azerbaijan.

“There may be development, expansion here later,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of a Turkish base springing up in Azerbaijan, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:

“The deployment of military infrastructure by Alliance countries (NATO) near our borders is a cause of our special attention, as well as a reason for us to take measures to ensure our security and our interests.”

The South Caucasus, which is part of the former Soviet Union, is of particular interest to Russia, which has traditionally viewed it as its own sphere of influence.

Russian peacekeepers are stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh after last year’s conflict, and Moscow has a military base in neighboring Armenia.

Reporting by Dmitry Antonov; Written by Alexander Marrow Edited by Andrew Osborn

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