Azerbaijan fixes up captured Armenian tanks from Nagorno-Karabakh war

From Soviet-era armour to anti-aircraft systems, a vast haul of equipment was captured, reports Gareth Browne in Baku

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In drone footage released by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence, the camera captures an Armenian crew scrambling from the turret of a tank and running for nearby trees.

There is no explosion but the tank is left behind.

Drones haunted Armenian soldiers, leading to many such scenes. Fearful of a missile strike, soldiers abandoned lorries and tanks.

Azerbaijan’s use of Turkish-made drones is widely seen as a key factor in Baku’s success in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, where a Russia-brokered ceasefire largely brought fighting to an end.

Afterwards, Azerbaijan was left with Armenian military hardware, much of it in working condition and requiring a coat of paint before it is re-used.

From Soviet-era armour to anti-aircraft systems, the spoils of war were taken to a military base near Baku.

The National  was given exclusive access to the base where vehicles, some bearing Armenian number plates and unit markings, are repaired and put to use by the Azerbaijani military.

An Armenian tank waits to be repainted in a yard outside the Azerbaijani capital, Baku.
An Armenian tank waits to be repainted in a yard outside the Azerbaijani capital, Baku.

Under the glare of the winter sun, mechanics worked on vehicles including T72 tanks to armoured personnel carriers.

Orthodox Christian crosses painted by Armenian crews are removed and armour is added.

In a corner of the yard lie helmets and ripped clothing left behind by the vehicles' occupants.

Although Azerbaijan would not give exact figures, one soldier told The National  that hundreds of Armenian tanks had passed through his processing area.

Armenia said little about its losses, but a former commander of its forces in Nagorno-Karabakh said they were substantial.

"On the morning of September 27, the Armenian side lost 50 per cent of its anti-aircraft resources and 40 per cent of its artillery," he was quoted by Hyetert  website as saying.

"We did not have an anti-aircraft force. We had six Tor [surface-to-air] missile systems, four of which were destroyed."