British special forces carried out secret trainings in Azerbaijan -
Members of the Azerbaijani Special Forces during a military parade in Baku
Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) paid for the The Special Air Service (SAS) regiment of the United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) to train Azerbaijan’s special forces in an effort to gain influence with the hardline ex-Soviet regime, the British Sunday Times writes.
According to a leaked document seen by The Sunday Times, members of the UK’s elite fighting force taught their counterparts sniper skills and how to storm buildings as part of a six-week training mission.
“The paper says one of the aims of the deployment in 2006 — codenamed Operation Lanark — was to “enhance” the FCO’s standing in the central Asian republic,” the article reads.
The article notes that western politicians have long been keen to court Azerbaijan and Ilham Aliyev, its president, because of the vast oil and gas reserves beneath the Caspian Sea.
“But human rights groups have accused Aliyev’s government of seeking to silence opposition by arresting and imprisoning dozens of political activists on bogus charges,” The Sunday Times reports.