Armenia Russia to Continue Military Technical Cooperation

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass)–Russian-Armenian military- technical cooperation will "clearly" develop–Armenia’s newly appointed Defense Minister Vagarshak Harutunian said.

Harutunian told Itar-Tass on Saturday that "continuity is one of the main indicators".

"We maintain cooperation at a very high level. We have an effective legal basis and we have taken many concrete steps and now we working contacts and concrete work going on," he said.

The minister stressed that Russian-Armenian cooperation is not directed against third countries. "The agreement on the Russian base expressly says that it will not be used against CIS countries or anyone else. Its purpose is to stabilize the situation in order to protect the interests of Armenia and Russia," he said.

"Our further cooperation will proceed within the framework of planned contacts and joint exercises–routine everyday work," the minister added.

Harutunian noted that there are no rifts between the top brass of the two countries. "We have all come out of the same school. We have served together and graduated from the same schools. We have the same mentality. And there are no problems in relations," he said.

Meanwhile–the Russian Armed Forces General Staff has finalized preparations for a multinational drill aimed at rebuffing an air and missile attack. The planning team was led by Lieutenant-General Yuri Bondarev.

The drill–which is code named "Combat Commonwealth ’99," will involve troopers of Russia–Belarus–Armenia–Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan–sources at the Air Force press service told Itar- Tass on Friday.

The sides will upgrade the combat readiness and train the joint fulfillment of combat duties. The drill will start at permanent locations of the Air Force and Air Defense units and continue at the Russian Ashuluk training grounds under the supervision of Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Colonel-General Anatoly Kornykov to duplicate the NATO air raids at sites in Yugoslavia.

The drill is expected to reaffirm the readiness of the Air Force and the Air Defense to repulse air and missile attacks with due account of the Balkan situation and the mounting threat to security of the participants in the strategic military exercises.

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