YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—President Vladimir Putin has formally authorized Russia’s government to negotiate a new defense agreement with Armenia that should lead to joint manufacturing weapons and other military equipment by the two nations.
The RIA-Novosti news agency reported late on Monday that Putin accepted a government proposal to hold talks with the Armenian side on the signing of the “agreement on the development of military-technical cooperation.” No further details were reported.
It was an apparent reference to a draft accord that was approved by the Armenian government last November. The government said at the time that it commits Armenian and Russian defense companies to supplying each other with equipment, assembly parts and other materials needed for the production, modernization and repair of various arms. It also reportedly stipulates that the jointly manufactured weaponry cannot be re-exported or transferred to third countries without the supplier’s permission.
Artur Baghdasarian, the secretary of Armenia’s National Security Council, told reporters last week that the deal has already been finalized. He said it will allow the Russian and Armenian defense industries to “establish direct links and deepen cooperation.” Baghdasarian did not specify when it will be signed.
A veteran Russian lawmaker, Nikolay Ryzhkov, said late last year that Putin plans to visit Armenia at the beginning of 2013.
Yerevan and Moscow had already agreed earlier to step up cooperation between their defense industries within the framework of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO secretary general, said in late 2011 that they are setting up joint ventures in Armenia for the “maintenance, repair and modernization of some types of weaponry.”
Also, Russia is supposed to provide “special military hardware” to the Armenian military in accordance with a Russian-Armenian defense accord signed in 2010. The deal extended the presence of a Russian military base in Armenia by 24 years, until 2044.