Russia Pledges to Modernize Arsenal in Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–RFE/RL)–In a meeting Tuesday with Armenia’s Prime Minister Armen Darbinian–Russian Ambassador to Armenia Anatoly Dryukov discussed trade–economic and technical cooperation between Armenia and Russia and announced Russia’s intentions to modernize its arsenal in Armenia–the Noyan Tapan news agency reported.

Dryukov told reporters an upcoming Russian-Armenian Intergovernmental Commission meeting–scheduled for the end of February–would plan specific cooperation projects. The Russian ambassador specifically emphasized cooperation with Armenian National Academy of Sciences and pledged that plans for the energy sector would be realized.

The two leaders did not discuss the deteriorating Russian economic crisis.

Russia has not deployed S-300 anti-aircraft missiles on the territory of Armenia–its military ally–but may do so in the near future–Dryukov told reporters.

"There has been no deployment of S-300 missiles yet but Russia has plans to upgrade the weaponry of its troops in Armenia," the Russian ambassador to Armenia–Dryukov–told RFE/RL.

Dryukov was responding to claims by senior Azeri officials that the modern and reportedly precise missiles have already arrived in Armenia. A top aide to Azeri President Haydar Aliyev–told the Turkish newspaper "Zaman" on December 31 that the missiles signal the beginning of a "cold war" between Moscow and Ankara–Baku’s closest ally.

"There is not even a hint of a cold war between Russia and Turkey. The S-300 is a purely defensive weapon," Dryukov said.

Russia has kept its troops in Armenia’since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The successive governmen’s in Yerevan have viewed their presence as an important element in their national security doctrine. The Russian troops are stationed near Armenia’s border with Turkey–with which it has strained relations.

Last month–Russia deployed several of its MiG-29 fighter jets in Armenia to replace aging MiG-23s. "In the same way–we will upgrade the weaponry of the anti-aircraft forces," the Russian ambassador said. He said the move will be in line with the Collective Security Treaty signed in 1992 by Russia–Armenia and several other former Soviet republics.

The treaty calls for a joint anti-aircraft protection system for the signatory-states to be put in place.

Azerbaijan does not have Russian military bases on its territory.

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