Armenia, Russia Sign Arms Export Deal
YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia and Russia have agreed to work together in exporting weapons and other military equipment to third countries, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan announced on Thursday.
The ministry said an agreement to that effect was signed on Wednesday by Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and a visiting senior Russian official during a meeting of a Russian-Armenian inter-governmental commission on bilateral military-technical cooperation.
A ministry statement gave no details of the agreement, saying only that it envisages the two countries’ “interaction in exporting military production to third countries.” It quoted Ohanian as saying during the signing ceremony that the deal “has a great significance for deepening Russian-Armenian military cooperation and will help to strengthen the armed forces of the two states.”
The statement added that the Russian-Armenian commission discussed “further development” of close military ties between Yerevan and Moscow during the four-day session that drew to a close on Thursday. Konstantin Biryulin, the commission’s Russian co-chairman who signed the export agreement, also discussed the matter with Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian on Wednesday.
Biryulin is also the deputy head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation with foreign nations.
The military alliance with Russia and, in particular, the presence of Russian troops on Armenian soil has been a key element of Armenia’s national security doctrine since independence. Armenia has been entitled to receiving Russian weapons at cut-down prices or even free of charge also because of its membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military pact of six former Soviet republics.
Ohanian was reported to say earlier this week that Armenia expects direct military assistance from the CSTO in the event of another war with Azerbaijan. That Yerevan can count on such support was confirmed by the CSTO’s secretary-general, Nikolay Bordyuzha, in August.