YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu ended a two-day official visit to Armenia on Tuesday as the two countries moved closer to signing an agreement on joint manufacturing and maintenance of weapons.
Shoygu went straight into talks with President Serzh Sarkisian on his arrival in Yerevan late on Monday and met his Armenian counterpart Seyran Ohanian the following morning. He also inspected the newly restructured Russian military base headquartered in Gyumri.
Sarkisian’s office said that the two sides agreed on the need to “further reinforce allied and strategic relations” and “deepen military-technical cooperation” between Armenia and Russia. They discussed concrete steps in that direction, the office said in a statement.
Shoygu spoke of “dynamic” development of Russian-Armenian military ties after his separate talks with Ohanian. It was their third meeting since Shoygu was appointed defense minister in November.
“We discussed issues related to military-technical cooperation and further development of our strategic partnership,” Shoygu told reporters. “This February we will clarify a program for our cooperation for the next five years.”
The two ministers also spoke about regional security. “We made a number of additional decisions as a result of that discussion,” Shoygu said. He added that they are connected with separate Russian-Armenian security talks that began in Yerevan within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led alliance of six former Soviet republics.
The talks were chaired by Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO secretary general, and Artur Baghdasarian, the secretary of Armenia’s National Security Service. In Baghdasarian’s words, top executives of “a large number” of Russian defense companies also took part in the session.
“We agreed to deepen cooperation in the area of defense industry,” Baghdasarian told a joint news conference with Bordyuzha. “We mapped out concrete programs and concrete directions for the creation of joint ventures.”
Baghdasarian said that the two sides have all but finalized a new Russian-Armenian agreement paving the way for joint arms production and repair. Russian President Vladimir Putin formally authorized his government to sign the accord earlier this month. According to the Moscow daily “Nezavisimaya Gazeta,” it will be signed in early February.
Bordyuzha announced that Yerevan and Moscow are already preparing to open seven facilities in Armenia for maintenance and repair of military hardware. The Russian government daily “Rossiiskaya Gazeta” reported earlier on Tuesday that they will cater for tanks, armored personnel carriers, air-defense systems and even helicopter gunships.