On November 28, Ilham Aliyev visited with Azerbaijani military units in Terter and Agjabedi, both near the Line of Contact, first such visits to be made public in over a year. Three days later, Armenian president arrived in Stepanakert for a military council about ‘current situation along the borders.’
The situation along the borders has been calm since mid-summer, calmer than it has been in years, and no fatalities from hostile fire incidents have been reported in over a month. The de-escalation was apparently a pre-condition for a presidential summit between Armenia and Azerbaijan in October. While that meeting was called ‘constructive,’ no new meeting date has been scheduled so far.
This week, Aliyev toured newly-built barracks and canteens, shot from a pistol and instructed senior military officials to “inspect rocket-artillery forces.” Azerbaijani Defense Ministry duly published photos of senior officials talking next to long-range multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) parked in garages.
Earlier this year, Azerbaijani Defense Ministry renewed its threats to use long-range artillery to attack Armenian population centers, whereas Sargsyan warned about missile attacks on Azerbaijan’s ‘vital infrastructure’ in case of a serious escalation.
Azerbaijan has also been building up its arsenal of Israeli-produced armed drones, giving it another stand-off strike capability. In August, Israeli government suspended the export license of one of the companies involved in exporting drones to Azerbaijan. It is unclear to what extent the suspension has impacted the build-up.