Russian Defense Chief Arrives in Armenia

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov arrived in Yerevan on Thursday to hold talks with Armenian leaders and attend a meeting of his counterparts from the Commonwealth of Independent States.

No further Russian-Armenian military agreemen’s are expected to be signed during the two-day visit–which will underscore close military ties between the two countries. Ivanov said that military cooperation is "developing dynamically."

"We are going to discuss the whole spectrum of Russian-Armenian interaction in areas of defense–security–and military-technical cooperation," he told reporters on his arrival in the Armenian capital. He said he will also discuss regional issues such as the Karabagh conflict.

Asked whether Moscow plans further arms deliveries to Armenia–Ivanov replied–"We discuss such issues regularly within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty organization. All relevant political decisions have already been taken. The deliveries of weapons–military hardware–and other military production [to Armenia and other organization members] are being carried out at domestic Russian prices."

Visiting Yerevan last November–Ivanov assured that Russia will continue to supply the Armenian military with new weaponry "on privileged terms," and plans to modernize its military base in Armenia. No details have been given by the two governmen’s since then.

Ivanov revealed later in the day that the Armenian Defense Ministry has purchased two Russian-made Ilyushin-72 transport planes within the Collective Security Treaty framework. He said they landed at Yerevan airport shortly after his arrival–but Armenian and Russian officials declined to disclose how much the aircrafts cost Armenia.

The military alliance has been the linchpin of Armenia’s defense strategy since its independence. Yerevan has tried to balance it in recent years with its growing participation in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

The Armenian government will host an annual meeting of the defense ministers of the CIS countries on Friday.

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