11 June 2012Russian fighter jets are conducting an increasing number of training flights over Armenia, a military spokesman said June 9, days after deadly clashes took place between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The military spokesman, Col. Igor Gorbul, told Interfax news agency that Russian fighter jets stationed at a base in Armenia have conducted about 300 training flights since the beginning of 2012, and have increased the number of flying hours by more than 20 percent from last year, The New York Times reported.
Violence has flared recently along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which have been at war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-controlled enclave inside Azerbaijan, for more than 20 years. At least eight soldiers, five Azerbaijanis and three Armenians, were killed in clashes along the border last week.
Col. Gorbul said Russian fighter pilots were preparing for combat. “The main emphasis in performing aerobatic elements is made on the ability to apply them in real-life air combat conditions,” he said. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week warned of possible “disastrous consequences” after a flare-up of deadly violence. The Russian Foreign Ministry also said it regarded the border clashes as “unacceptable” and would continue to try to broker a peaceful settlement.