Azeris Start Exercises Near Breakaway Area as Peace Efforts Fail

Azerbaijan started military exercises near its breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh as efforts led by the U.S., Russia and France are failing to broker a resolution to the long-running conflict with Armenia.

The “large-scale” maneuvers involving ground and air forces are overseen by Defense Minister Safar Abiyev and will continue throughout the week, the Azeri Defense Ministry in the capital, Baku, said today in an e-mailed statement.

The predominantly ethnic Armenian region broke free of Baku’s control with military and political backing of neighboring Armenia after the breakup of the former Soviet Union in 1991. More than 30,000 people were killed and 1 million displaced during the conflict, which left Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent Azeri districts under Armenian control.

Azerbaijan, where BP Plc and partners have invested more than $40 billion in energy projects since 1994, has repeatedly threatened to use military force to regain control of the territory should peace talks fail.

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