Russia’s military attache in Yerevan, Colonel Anatoly Balaev, has obliquely admitted to a violation of Azerbaijan’s airspace by a Russian-piloted MIG-29 airplane from the squadron recently introduced by Russia in Armenia. On February 27, the MiG overflew the Kelbajar district, penetrating some fifteen to twenty kilometers into Azerbaijani airspace, and spending some three minutes there before turning back. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry made the incident public on March 1, along with a protest note to Moscow. The next day Russia’s Foreign Ministry rejected Baku’s account and protest.
Balaev, however, conceded that the plane “might have violated the border” because the Russian pilots flying the MIG-29s “have just arrived in Armenia and have not yet familiarized themselves with the region.” Belaev argued, moreover, that the penetration was not so deep after all.
A noteworthy passage in the Russian note said that the airplane, overflying Kelbajar, had “not violated the border of Azerbaijan proper.” The formula raises some questions about Moscow’s definition of the border of “Azerbaijan proper.” The Kelbajar district forms a part of Azerbaijani territory occupied by Karabakh/Armenian forces outside and beyond Karabakh (Turan, March 1; Itar-Tass, March 2; Noyan-Tapan, March 3; see the Monitor, February 22).
PARTY OF POWER OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED IN KAZAKHSTAN.