Joint Russian Armenian Military Force to Be Formed

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian said on Friday that a joint military force to be set up soon by Russia and Armenia will operate under Armenian command. "The commander of the contingent will be appointed by the Armenian side," Sarkisian told RFE/RL on the sidelines of a meeting of senior security officials from the Collective Security Treaty (CST) member countries. Russian and Armenian officials have said the joint contingent will be formed within the framework of the CST–which binds together six former Soviet republics. In a first indication of its likely size–Sarkisian said the army unit will comprise Russian troops deployed in Armenia and the Fifth Army Corps of the Armenian armed forces. Both detachmen’s are mainly stationed in the country’s northwest–along the border with Turkey. According to some estimates–their combined strength would be at least 10,000 soldiers and over one hundred units of military hardware. Sarkisian also dismissed speculation about a recent cooling in the Russian-Armenian relationship. "We can’t beg the Russia’s neither politically nor economically. Cooperation must be mutually beneficial," he said.

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