Russia’s Air Defense Chief Signals More Cooperation

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The commander-in-chief of Russia’s air defense forces–Col.-Gen. Anatolii Kornukov–on Wednesday continued his meetings with Armenian leaders on the second day of a visit that underscored close military ties between the two countries.

Kornukov discussed with Prime Minister Armen Darbinian ways to "develop the mutually beneficial cooperation," the government’s press service said.

On Tuesday–the Russian general met with Armenian Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan.

As part of the bilateral military cooperation–the Armenian and Russian air defense forces that include an air force jointly guard Armenia’s borders with Turkey and Iran–apparently under a single command structure.

Official sources said Kornukov’s visit will result in a reinforcement of Russian military presence in Armenia. Last summer–Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev visited a joint Russian-Armenian anti-aircraft base in north Armenia pledging greater support.

The military cooperation between the two states was underpinned in August 1997 by a comprehensive Russian-Armenian treaty signed in Moscow.

The document provides a legal framework for a continued presence in Armenia of two Russian military bases. Armenia views the presence of the Russian troops as a vital security guarantee against the neighboring Turkey.

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