Russian Troops in Gyumri will Retaliate if Azerbaijan Attacks

Russian Air Force officers march in Yerevan airfield earlier this month

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Russian troops stationed in Armenia could openly side with it in case of a renewed Armenian-Azerbaijani war for Nagorno-Karabakh, according to their top commander, Colonel Andrey Ruzinsky.

“If Azerbaijan decides to restore jurisdiction over Nagorno-Karabakh by force the [Russian] military base may join in the armed conflict in accordance with the Russian Federation’s obligations within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO),” Ruzinksy told the Russian Defense Ministry’s “Krasnaya Zvezda” newspaper in a recent interview.

Ruzinksy answered a question about the mission of the Russian base headquartered in Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri.

That mission was upgraded by a Russian-Armenian defense agreement signed in 2010. The agreement extended Russia’s basing rights in Armenia until 2044. It also committed Moscow to supplying its South Caucasus ally with more weapons and military hardware.

The Russian base, which numbers between 4,000 and 5,000 soldiers, has since been bolstered with modern weaponry, reportedly including Iskander-M tactical ballistic missiles. The Russian military also plans to deploy combat helicopters there soon. The Russian air force unit in Armenia currently has 16 MiG-29 fighter jets.

Armenian officials and pro-government politicians have claimed before that the 2010 defense pact mandates direct Russian military involvement in the Karabakh conflict if Azerbaijan acts on its threats to reconquer the disputed territory. Russian officials have not explicitly confirmed this in their public statements made until now.

The Russian troops in Armenia hold joint exercises and trainings with Armenian army units on a regular basis. Around a thousand soldiers from the two armies, backed up tanks, helicopters and artillery systems, practiced a joint military operation as recently as in August.

According to Ruzinsky, more such war games are planned for next year. “I believe that we need to further develop our field cooperation, if I may put it way,” he said.

The Russian base commander also revealed to “Krasnaya Zvezda” that a group of his senior officers and their Armenian colleagues recently jointly toured “areas of combat engagement.” “We plan to increase such activities next year,” he said without elaborating.

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44 Comments

  1. Avetis said:

    God bless Russia. God bless Armenia. And may God help protect and preserve Russo-Armenian relations from enemies both foreign and domestic.

  2. Ara said:

    Interesting development and analogous to what happened 20 odd years ago. However, I don’t think Russia now would again risk such involvement for several reasons:

    An attack on Azerbaijan by Russia, while it is reclaiming it’s internationally recognized borders VS a state which has not complied with several active UN resolutions to vacate occupied lands, would look very poor in the eyes of the international community.

    Azerbaijan being one of the sole energy alternatives in the region to Russian energy, and thereby ensuring Europe’s energy security by diversifying away from Russia who have use their energy supply as a weapon, an attack on Azerbaijan by Russia, would likely result in NATO coming in to direct conflict with Russia.

    Armenia is not so significant to Russia that it would risk an outright WW III scenario with NATO.

    We could draw some parallels with the Georgian war, but there are several notable differences, primarily that Georgia is nowhere near as strategic to Europe and NATO as Azerbaijan, and that Georgia is smaller and not very well armed.

    Of course, perhaps NATO and Russia would just play this out to carve out the regions resources for their own control and benefit, I certainly don’t trust either side enough to discount such a possibility.

    In any case, I think the only TRUTH is that we can only rely on ourselves for our own security; we do not have true friends, just friends of convenience.

    • john goncuian said:

      I disagree ,NATO would never dare aiding to Azeris risking to confront RUSSIA. The painful realities for NATO are unsuccessful and costly military involvements in Iraq, Libya , Afganistan and their reluctance to get involved in Syria against Asad forces further evidence. NATO members do not want to get involved any more wars especially against RUSSIA . Also, ARMENIA is very well prepared to any Azeri attack and mountainous region of Karabagh will favor ARMENIA,the coward AZERIS will never dare risking second military LOSS against ARMENIA. It is my opinion that ARMENIA’s national interest strongly lies with RUSSIA and IRAN.

      • Steve said:

        Russia WILL intervene against an Azerie attack because it is in their interest to have a healthy (albeit dependant Armenia). Armenia is Russia’s extention to the Region and the current status quo is PERFECT for Russia’s interests. If the Azerie’s dare to disrupt this status quo, Russia will not stand by idle and just watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. This in addition to the Armenian diaspora factor (volunteer fighters + MONEY) is a very unpredictable and dangerous scenerio for the Azeries. They are not cofindent in their ability to win a war with Armenia and just bark time to time for domestic purposes.

  3. AraK said:

    Then why did they give billion of $$$ worth weapons to the Azeris? To fight against whom? Business only? I don’t believe one iota of Russian promises. They are selling us down the river. I think it’s about time for Sarkissyan to resign. Either he is incapable or he doesn’t the power or the means. But either way he has to resign and I hope neither the crook Kotcharian or the dumb Bedrossian come to power. We need new blood before it’s too late… unless it’s too late already.

    • John Kassabian said:

      Arak,

      The weapons were given to the Azeris, to pressure Armenia to join their customs union. Apparently it worked.

      Russia would support the Hye’s, not because they are nice guy’s, but because it is in their strategic interest, at least for now.

      • Steve said:

        John Kassabian,

        I agree with you 100%. Russians aren’t Angels in the Sky but Armenian just don’t realize how much Russia needs Armenia. We underestimate our own importance in the region either because we are used to feeling like victims or don’t understand geopolitics all that much. Russian needs us as much as we need them (for different reasons).

  4. gary said:

    GOOD BLESS RUSSIA,ONLY DEFENDER OF OUR COUNTRY AND ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FAITH , GOD PEOPLE WILL PREVAIL .

    • Arn.Sweden. said:

      Hmmm – ? – There is a Prophesy saying that –

      ” Russia will be the first Country in the World to betray Christianity ” !.

      Russian Strategic and Tactical intressts will not change though.

      Arn. Sweden.

  5. DavidO said:

    The Russians supply Armenia with weapons, etc., yet the ARF/ANCA still DEMANDS that the American tax payer pay for more military aid to Armenia! How much more SHAMELESS can Armenians become? Pathetic!!

    • GeorgeMardig said:

      DavidO says: ….. DEMANDS that the American tax payer pay for more military aid to Armenia! How much more SHAMELESS can Armenians become? Pathetic!!… SHAME ON YOU, same way that Turkey is buying in Billions of $$$$$$$$$ Chinese missile system, comparatively what is given to Armenia are crumbs

    • lobo said:

      Wow, super logic. Oh wait, no. It’s retarded.
      US supplies Turkey with X, yet Turkey buys (!) Chinese military equipmeant. Comments?

    • Heghapokhagan said:

      “Don’t put ALL your Eggs in 1 basket”
      Your comment is not even on elementary level!

    • bigmoustache said:

      only a fool would fail to see the advantage of American military and political support

      • Avetis said:

        Only a fool would think Armenia will ever get serious political or military support from America.

      • www.Voskanapat.info said:

        Please spell out the “advantages” for us. Any examples?

        Oh, I know one or two – Armenian Army Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan went to NATO language course paid by American tax $$ to be murdered in his sleep by an Azeri Turk officer.

        Pentagon pays for advanced weapons and training of Azeri Turk snipers who kill Armenians in Armenia and Artsakh.

  6. karakeuz said:

    very good news indeed. Relations with Russia ought to be strengthened deeper.

  7. Tony said:

    Well, Turkic speaking Azerbaijan deserves a fatal blow from CSTO if it tries to attack Artsakh. Azerbaijani Nomads should be returned back to their very lovely ancestral homeland in Mongolia.

    • kassabian said:

      so what about tatarstan tatars who lives in moscow occupying the city what we will make them and caucassians like dagestanes chechens ?

      • www.Voskanapat.info said:

        What about them?

        Azerbaijan is an artificial country created by Turkish army on the lands of native peoples including Armenians, Tolysh, Lezgi, Tsakhurs, etc. It is ruled by a Kurdish clan of Aliyevs who discriminate against the natives and robs their lands of all resources.

  8. JOSEF said:

    Azerbaijan needs to understand that they lost and live in peace with Armenia!!

    • Truthbehind said:

      Thats it. A war is lost, and the borders changed. They should accept that fact and live in peace. Like Armenia has his borders now and should stop any requests against Turkey.

    • www.Voskanapat.info said:

      Azrerbaijan understands that very well. All their war mongering is actually a defense mechanism. They are afraid that Armenians will return Nakhijevan next. But that land is the home base of the Kurdish clan of Aliyevs.

  9. Arn.Sweden. said:

    Good but – Azerbadjan is nor the only problem – Turkey and Nato is to.

    Armenia must be able to shot down every Nato Aircraft approaching Armenia itself.

    Arn.Sweden.

    • kassabian said:

      are you insane ? alot of armenians in middle-east especially in lebanon then arabs can send all armenians to hell armenians in middle-east defenceless

  10. GeorgeMardig said:

    DavidO says: ….. DEMANDS that the American tax payer pay for more military aid to Armenia! How much more SHAMELESS can Armenians become? Pathetic!!… SHAME ON YOU, same way that Turkey is buying in Billions of $$$$$$$$$ Chinese missile system, comparatively what is given to Armenia are crumbs

  11. lobo said:

    Sure, Asbarez – oversimplify much?
    Explain to me, how If Azerbaijan decides to restore jurisdiction over Nagorno-Karabakh by force the [Russian] military base may join in the armed conflict in accordance with the Russian Federation’s obligations within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO),” can result in your headline.

  12. Sevag said:

    DavidO – what is your point? Russia gives us arms and protection, America sends us money as financial aid….is this a horrible thing? Money and weapons from two super powers? Not sure what you mean by pathetic, I say bravo that we agree receiving both because of the work of the ANCA, THANK you ANCA / ARF

  13. Tsayt said:

    Yeah, Yeah, we’ve heard such double-talk before. Wait till we hear the next “counter balance” from a high ranking official, saying something like “Nagorno-Karabakh is outside the CSTO jurisdiction”, or outright sell some more armaments to Baku.

    Russian slime balls!

    • Harutik said:

      Tsayt, your Cold War hysteria is getting quite old. Syria woke a lot of people up, except you I guess.

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