US Opposes Russian Weapons Transfer to Armenia

WASHINGTON (AP)–The State Department said Tuesday it opposes Russian plans to transfer surface-to-air missiles–MiG jets and other equipment to Armenia.

"We see no military need for stationing such equipment in Armenia," spokesman James Foley said. "We believe that if such equipment is to be placed in Armenia–it would do nothing to improve the security situation in the region."

"Well–we’ve seen the press reports–they date back–I think–about ten days–according to which Russian Major General Grigoryev–who is in charge of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Department for Cooperation with CIS member states–announced that Russia would send S-300 surface-to-air missiles to a Russian military base in Armenia to replace older surface-to-air systems. Of course–Russia and Armenia have a mutually-ratified basing agreement. Stationing of Russian troops and equipment in Armenia is therefore a bilateral issue between those two nations," explained Foley.

Announcement of the transfer was made by the Russian ambassador to Armenia–Yuri Dryukov–earlier this month. He said the move was part of an ongoing effort to modernize the Russian military arsenal in Armenia.

Last month–a squadron of Russian MiG-29 fighter jets flew to Armenia to replace the aging MiG-23s previously stationed there–Dryukov said.

Armenia has welcomed the presence of Russian troops since receiving independence in 1991–when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Dryukov denied Azeri claims that the new S-300 antiaircraft missiles would be turned over to Armenia–insisting they would be under the control of the Russian military.

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