Russian MiG 29 Warplanes Arrive in Armenia

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–Agence France Presse)–The first group of Russian MiG-29 fighter jets landed at Armenia’s Erebuni airport Wednesday for permanent stationing in Armenia. A second group of warplanes is also due in Armenia’soon.

A senior commander of the Russian Air Force said close cooperation between Russian pilots and Armenian anti-aircraft defense forces was also planned.

Greeting the Russian airmen at Erebuni Airport were Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan–other senior commanders of the Armenian Armed Forces–as well as Russian Air Force Commander Anatoly Kornukov.

Later that day–General Kornukov and the delegation accompanying him visited Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Armen Darbinian.

The planes will enforce the Russian military base stationed in Armenia.

The visit by Gen.-Colonel Kornukov marked another stage in implementation of the agreement on a single anti-aircraft system between Russia and Armenia. The "Azg" daily said that Kornukov was visiting Armenia to ensure that orders by Russian Defense Minister and Commander General of the Russian Air Force on formation of the operative airborne group within 102nd Russian military base were carried out.

Kornukov said–the arrival of five MiG warplanes in Armenia’signaled a new group of guards within the single CIS anti-aircraft system. Starting in July a multi-step defense of CIS air space in Armenia’s section will be implemented Kornukov said.

Meanwhile–Azerbaijan accused Russia of delivering military aircraft to Armenia and demanded their instant removal–a foreign ministry official said Thursday.

Deputy foreign minister Araz Azimov said that Russia delivered five MiG-29 fighter jets to Yerevan on Wednesday. The planes will be used by Russian forces stationed in Armenia.

Azimov said he learned of the deliveries through local press reports–which quoted the Armenian government. Russia currently stations nearly 10,000 troops outside Yerevan.

"Baku views very negatively any delivery of weapons from Russia to Armenia–which serves to strengthen the military capability of an aggressor occupying 20 percent of our territory," Azimov said.

"We demand that Russia remove all weapons–which cost more than one billion dollars–immediately from Armenia," Azimov said. Azeri officials also accused Russia of sending weapons to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azimov said that Azerbaijan was directing its protests over the fighter jet delivery against Russia rather than Armenia–since Moscow purports to be a neutral party in the dispute.


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