War Games See Several Caspian Nations Sending Their Tanks into Action
If you stumbled across this video on YouTube, you might wonder quite what’s going on. It’s from the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence. It shows an anxious commander barking down a military line, after which several tanks in oddly colourful camouflage colours charge forward at great speed in what might be the outer perimeter of an airport. However, as they bound towards concrete ramps and through muddy pools, this seems less likely. Despite the stirring martial music accompanying the video, it is clear that, unlike other Az MoD clips, this is not a conflict video. In fact, it’s sport. Yes, while the Paralympics reached their pinnacle in Tokyo, near Moscow, another international contest was underway, a “Tank Biathlon” – a kind of mini-Olympics for heavy armour. The video is celebrating Azerbaijan’s advancement to the semi-finals.
The competition is designed to test the skills of tank crews, both in speed, dealing with difficult terrain and firing accurately while performing manoeuvres. From a modest beginning in 2013 with just four participating nations, by 2018, over 20 countries were taking part, and from 2019 the contest was divided into two divisions. Since 2016 when it joined, Azerbaijan has only once failed to figure in the top six, typically fighting it out for the top spots with Russia, China, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Like the Paralympics, the biathlon came to a climax on September 4, with Russia winning the four-way final against China, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan. The action was streamed live from Alabino by RT on YouTube.