YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Armenia’s top general has visited the U.S. military headquarters and two training centers in Europe, underscoring Yerevan’s efforts to deepen defense ties with the United States resented by Russia.
Lieutenant-General Eduard Asryan, the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, met with Lieutenant General Steven Basham, the deputy head of U.S. European Command (EUCOM), at the EUCOM headquarters in the German city of Stuttgart on Friday. They discussed “Armenia’s security environment, defense reforms and the defense cooperation with the United States,” read an EUCOM statement released afterwards.
“This was a milestone event as we deliberately and incrementally develop our defense relationship,” it quoted Basham as saying.
“The Armenian armed forces are currently undergoing significant reforms and transformation and we are interested in receiving support and learning about the best practices from our partners, and especially the United States.” Asryan said for his part.
According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, Basham expressed the U.S.’s readiness to help the South Caucasus nation “professionalize” its armed forces, modernize their command-and-control structures and train military personnel on a larger scale. There was no word on potential U.S. arms supplies.
Asryan visited the U.S. military’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center and Non-Commissioned Officer Academy in Germany before his talks with Basham.
His trip came less than two months after Armenia hosted a U.S.-Armenian military exercise criticized by Russia as well as neighboring Iran. Asryan and Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikiyn watched the exercise together with two U.S. generals.
The drills added to the Armenian government’s unprecedented tensions with Moscow, its longtime ally. The Russian Foreign Ministry listed them Yerevan’s “unfriendly” actions in a note of protest handed to the Armenian ambassador in Moscow on September 8.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan insisted late last month that his government is determined to “diversify” Armenia’s foreign and security policies because the Russians have failed to honor their security commitments to his country. But he again made clear that it is not considering demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Armenia even if it sees no “advantages” in their presence.