Moscow to Prioritize Karabakh Issue, Beef up Military Presence in Armenia

Russia's ambassador to Armenia Sergei Kopyrkin
Russia's ambassador to Armenia Sergei Kopyrkin

Russia’s ambassador to Armenia Sergei Kopyrkin

Russia will continue to have the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution as a key foreign policy priority and it will modernize and beef up its military capabilities in Armenia in 2020.

Russia’s Ambassador to Armenia, Sergei Kopyrkin told reporters on Tuesday that his country, as one of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, will contribute to a settlement plan that is acceptable to the sides.

“Russia is a mediator that tries to contribute to the political settlement of the Karabakh conflict based on acceptable options for the parties. We will move forward with this approach in the future also,” said said Kopyrkin.

The Russian envoy added that 2019 Moscow and Yerevan worked to strengthen the security of the two countries and announced that his country will make changes to the Russian military base in Gyumri that will see new military hardware and equipment being deployed in an effort to beef up its presence in Armenia.

“In 2019 several projects were undertaken to elevate the efficiency of combat preparedness of the 102nd Russian military base stationed in Gyumri. There were major successes registered. We have plans to double the combat potential of the military base without the increase of number,” explained Kopyrkin, who also said that Moscow plans to make infrastructure changes to the base, which will involve engaging Armenian contractors in the process.

Kopyrkin also praised the close relations between Armenia and Russia, especially highlighting the cooperation between the two countries in Syria, where Armenia has deployed a group of specialists who are engaged in de-mining efforts in and around Aleppo.

“This year was distinguished with the visit of high-ranking Russian officials to Armenia. As you know, the Russia’s president, prime minister and defense minister visited Armenia. This shows that the two countries have a lot of issues to discuss with our relations developing in various fields. We are united with common interests, and the most important is that it reflects the political will of the two sides aimed at not only maintaining, but also raising the current cooperation level,” the Russian ambassador said.

Kopyrkin highlighted the active partnership between Russia and Armenia in the integration platforms, such as the EEU, CSTO. He praised Armenia’s 2019 chairmanship in the EAEU as major steps were taken to raise the EEU’s international reputation and establish new ties with other states.

“We highly value the partnership conducted by our countries in various international platforms, such as the UN and the Council of Europe. The results of voting on key issues prove that Armenia remains a vital and reliable partner for us which we can rely on in difficult situations,” Kopyrkin said.

He was asked about a group of former Armenian officials who have been charged in criminal cases in Armenia but have sought refuge in Russia. Kopyrkin said that those cases were not political but rather legal matters adding that Moscow was looking into means to address them.

“I have already expressed my position on the matter. For me this issue is not political, but legal. And we should look at it from this point of view. There are respective legal tools, conventions and legislative norms of the two countries. There are professional specialists in the prosecutions of our countries who are in touch with one another regarding this issue. Let’s give them a chance to do that,” explained Kopyrkin.

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