The evening of November 10 brought joyless news. According to the statement of the Ministry of Defense:
On November 9 at about 17:30 Moscow time over the territory of Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan from an unidentified man-portable air defense system was shot down from the ground by a Russian helicopter fire support Mi-24, which performed the task of escorting a convoy of 102nd Russian military base. The incident took place in Armenian airspace near the Armenian settlement of Yeraskh near the Azerbaijani border. As a result of a ground-to-air missile hit, the helicopter lost control and fell into the mountainous terrain. Two crew members were killed and one was evacuated to the base airfield with medium severity injuries. The command of the 102nd Russian military base is currently identifying the shooters.
Frankly speaking, sooner or later we were expecting this or something like that. There are external forces that were extremely interested in dragging Russia into the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Strange as it may seem, Azerbaijan was least interested in it. But it was also difficult to expect provocations from Armenia because if it had been revealed, they would have signed the death penalty. And there was nowhere else to expect more help from Armenia, as from Russia. The Russian Federation had already provided it with arms and ammunition without officially participating in the conflict. It is difficult to say whose ears are sticking out behind the incident, whether it be the CIA or MI6, even considering the internal situation in the United States, which was aggravated by the last elections. The special services live their independent lives according to the principle: ‘War is war, and lunch is on schedule’, and even the change of presidents does not affect them – rather, it affects their change. So let’s leave it at that until the circumstances of the case are clarified, and today we will talk about the Turkish trace in the current conflict. All the more so since our helicopter shot down, most likely, may end up on the Turkish sultan’s account.
What is Turkish F-16s doing at Ganja Air Base?
Not so long ago Ilham Aliyev had to answer a difficult question in an interview with Italian Ria 1 TV channel about what Turkish F-16 fighters are doing in Azerbaijan in the midst of the war with Armenia. Unlike Turkey, Azerbaijan is not a NATO member. And that kind of partner military support would only have been possible if both countries were members of the North Atlantic Alliance.
The Azerbaijani president’s response impressed with its asymmetry, quite in the spirit of Vladimir Putin:
We do not say how many Russian MiG-29 and Su-30 are in Armenia. We are not saying that 5,000 Russian troops are located at Armenia’s base in Gyumri, and according to our data, the supplies to the Armenian armed forces come from there periodically, and these are facts, as opposed to what is said about us.
The Azerbaijani president’s similar response was stumped, as no logic was seen in it. For Armenia and Russia are part of a single military and political bloc of the CSTO and, according to the Treaty of March 16, 1995, the Russian military base is officially located in Armenia. The 102nd base is in Gyumri. And our servicemen are there legally, according to the Treaty on the Legal Status of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the territory of Armenia, signed as early as August 21, 1992, and the supplies of arms and equipment are also provided between the allies, according to the Collective Security Treaty.
It should be taken into account that Moscow, unlike Ankara, did not sink oil into the fire of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. There are no reports, even from biased sources, that the Panzer-C1 MRK has been illuminated in Nagorno-Karabakh, which would be very useful there. Nor was the Krasukha-4 RES complex, which is in service with the 102nd base but was not seen in the conflict zone. And it would certainly solve all the problems with the Turkish and Israeli UAVs, which are in service with the Azerbaijani Armed Forces and inflict devastating damage on the NKR Defense Army.
But Russia behaved correctly and did not interfere in the hot phase of the conflict. So far, it has not interfered. In this sentence, the most important word is “bye”. The 102nd Base reports to the command of the Southern Military District and performs combat duty tasks within the framework of the CIS Joint Air Defense System. Since May 1996, it has been comprised of the 3624th Airbase, which is located in Yerevan (Erebuni airfield). By the way, Ilham Aliyev’s information about our Su-30 fighters does not correspond to reality, because the 102nd base has S-300 SAM systems, MiG-29 fighters and Mi-24P, and Mi-8MT helicopters, but no Su-30s. However, this does not remove the question, what do Turkish F-16s do at the airbase in Ganja? It still remains unanswered.
The Italian journalist was also not satisfied with the answer received, after which Aliyev had already had to give explanations:
I am often asked: what are Turkish F-16s doing here? I was tired of answering. If you have satellites, look, make sure that they are on the ground and not in the sky. They came here to participate in the exercises and stayed here when the war started. Our Turkish brothers left them for moral support. But if there is aggression from the outside against us, they will see these F-16s.
Well, the version has the right to exist. If it hadn’t been for one thing. For two weeks Azerbaijan categorically denied the presence of six Turkish F-16s at the military base in Ganja, saying that this is just Armenian propaganda based not on facts, but on speculation. But when Maxar Technologies, which monitors the earth’s surface, published pictures of the six at the Ganja airbase, it became senseless to deny the presence of foreign military aircraft. After that, there was a version that the fighter planes simply did not have time to fly to Turkey because the war had begun. And to raise them in the air at that moment would have been to generate empty talk about the Azerbaijani army being helped by the Turks.
Let us deal with that as well. Yes, indeed, there were joint exercises. And the considerable part of flights of combat planes was demonstratively conducted not only near the unrecognized republic but also near the Armenian border. But all that splendor lasted 10 days and ended on August 10. And the military campaign in Nagorno-Karabakh, if memory serves me, began on September 27. It turns out that in a month and a half, six combat aircraft could not find the strength to leave the hospitable hosts. Aha! I already believe it.
Summary: Turkish ears are sticking out everywhere.
And what conclusions can be drawn from all this? And it follows that the war was planned long before it began with the most active participation of Ankara. And the Armenian Defense Ministry should have understood this already in summer when Turkish military delegations were visiting Baku. Such activity of military-technical cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan has never happened in this century. The main delegation, the August one, was headed by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who had a long meeting with Aliyev. Where did the Armenian special services look, the question?
A contract was signed for the urgent delivery of a large batch of Bairaktar reconnaissance and strike drones. And the Armenians knew it. They also learned that Major General Hexel Kakhya, a high-ranking officer of the Turkish army and a major specialist in UAV operations, had been spotted in Baku. He was the one who organized the Turkish drone control center in Libya, and it was largely thanks to him that Marshal Haftar’s attack on Tripoli was stopped.
Only the blind man could not compare the two facts. However, the Armenians were in a state of euphoria after they shot down 10 drones and intercepted three during the summer five-day armed conflict on the border of Armenia’s Tavush region. It is true that all of them were Israeli-made. The brutal sobering happened 2.5 months later.
P.S. While the text was being written, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry had already admitted its guilt in the unintentional destruction of a Russian attack helicopter in the sky over Armenia. Baku has declared its readiness to pay the necessary compensation and express condolences to the families and relatives of the victims.
Let’s see how it ends…
P.P.S. How it ended, you already know. Russia stepped in.