Turkmenistan will hold its first-ever naval exercises in the Caspian Sea in early September, President Gurbanguly Berdimukhammedov announced. The exercises will be called Khazar-2012 ("Khazar" being the Turkmen word for
"Caspian") and will involve both military and law enforcement units, according to a report in Turkmenistan's official press, via ITAR-TASS:
"In line with the provisions of the military doctrine, purely defensive in nature, a program for the development of naval forces was developed and approved," Berdimukhammedov said. "The exercises 'Khazar-2012' will demonstrate their current powerful defensive potential."
Turkmenistan has been one of the more ambitious, albeit quiet, participants in the Caspian arms race (if you can call it that). In recent years it's acquired Russian missile corvettes and Turkish patrol boats, as well as constructing a new naval base and naval academy in the port city of Turkmenbashi.
Fergananews.com, reporting on the exercise, notes that it comes after a summer of somewhat heightened tensions with Azerbaijan over natural gas deposits in a contested part of the sea, a dispute which has occasionally taken on a military character.
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