Ruling out a second Russian military base in Armenia, the latter has indicated it could allow expansion of the existing base in a disputed region, closer to the border of Azerbaijan. Currently, the Russian military base is located in Gyumri, the second-largest city in the country.
Armenian Minister of Defense Vagharshak Harutyunyan said, “The military base is located in Gyumri, but, within the framework of the expansion project, it could be moved to the east of the country, closer to the border of Azerbaijan and Kelbadjar region, which Azerbaijan acquired as a result of the second Karabakh war.”
Armenia had suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Azerbaijan in the 44-day Nagorno-Karabakh war recently. The two countries along with Russia signed a pact to end the military conflict over the disputed enclave.
Speaking about the future defense cooperation with Moscow, Harutyunyan told that Yerevan maintains cordial military relations with its northern neighbor and would continue to do so, even working towards expanding it.
“Why not? To begin with, Armenian-Russian joint ventures are already functioning in Armenia, and further work in this direction is underway,” Sputnik quoted him as saying.
The minister said that Armenia is committed to the “creation and expansion of the network of regional certified centers for the maintenance and modernization of weapons and military equipment.”
If the latest indications are anything to go by, the 102nd military base of the Russian Armed Forces in Gyumri could see improvisation as Moscow had been an open supporter of Yerevan during the war while Turkey had backed Azerbaijan.
“The issue of expanding and strengthening the Russian military base on the territory of the Republic of Armenia has also been on the agenda,” Harutyunyan said.
“And the Armenian side has always been interested in this for a simple reason that the base is included at full strength in the United Group of Forces of the Armenian and Russian armed forces. And, therefore, the expansion of the base’s capabilities automatically leads to the increase of the joint group’s potential,” he added.
The minister also said that his country would continue to support the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and ensure that the security of the people would be ensured by the country’s Army.
However, while talking about the expansion of the 102nd military base, he stressed that there is no need for a second Russian military base in Armenia.
“As for the deployment of an additional military base of the Russian Armed Forces on the territory of the Republic of Armenia, I think that this is not necessary. The current legal framework between our states determines the status and regulates the activities of only one Russian base,” he said.
In wake of the war, the Armenian armed forces are closely working with their Russian counterparts to ensure the modernization of equipment and training.
“Military reform in Armenia is not only being planned but is already underway, and our Russian colleagues are directly involved in this process,” he said.