YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia will not have a permanent military presence in Russia as part of its involvement in a Russian-led rapid reaction force comprising troops from five former Soviet republics, a top official in Moscow said on Thursday.
An agreement on the formation of the force, officially called the Collective Operational Reaction Forces (CORF), was formalized in June during a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-led military alliance. Two of the CSTO’s seven member states, Belarus and Uzbekistan, refused to sign the agreement because of major disagreements with Moscow.
Citing an unnamed official at the CSTO headquarters in Moscow, the Russian Regnum news agency reported last month that under the terms of the deal, Armenia will be able to open two military bases in the Russian North Caucasus. The official was quoted as saying that the “limited contingent” would be stationed in the Krasnodar region and the restive Muslim republic of Dagestan to primarily ensure “the security of the transport infrastructure” in the area.
The Armenian government has not explicitly denied the information so far. But Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO secretary general, insisted on Thursday that Moscow and Yerevan have not even negotiated on the possibility of Armenian troop deployment in the mentioned area.
“Armenia is a party to the agreement on the Collective Operational Reaction Forces and has set aside army units and special forces from national security and internal affairs bodies for that purpose,” Bordyuzha told Armenian journalists in a video conference from Moscow.
Bordyuzha said those forces would be normally based in Armenia. The CORF would use them only “in cases where there is a need for their involvement in carrying out a concrete military task,” he added.
The Russian military is expected to contribute by far the largest contingent of the CORF. Official Yerevan has yet to specify the number of Armenian soldiers and other security personnel that it will commit to the NATO-style force.