By Hrach Melkumian
Armenia and Russia sealed Monday the entry into force of a defense agreement paving the way for the formation of a joint military contingent tasked with countering common security threats.
The treaty on the planning and use of Russian and Armenian troops for “ensuring common security” was signed by the defense ministers of the two countries in September 2000. Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and Russian Ambassador to Armenia Anatoly Dryukov formally exchanged documents certifying its ratification by their respective parliaments.
“This treaty regulates the planning of joint military operations that could be conducted by Russia and Armenia,” Oskanian said after signing a relevant protocol with Dryukov. He said the document will boost Armenia’s security.
The creation of a Russian-Armenian military unit is expected to be the main result of the treaty. Military officials in Yerevan have said previously that the joint force is likely to comprise troops from the Fifth Corps of the Armenian armed forces and the Russian military base in Armenia. They said it will be led by an Armenian officer.
According to Dryukov, the main task of the joint contingent will be to counter “international terrorism.” He said it will also deepen Russian-Armenian military cooperation.
The treaty’s coming into effect follows a further rapprochement between Armenia’s arch-rival Azerbaijan and Russia. The presidents of the two countries, meeting in Moscow late last week, resolved a long-standing dispute by signing an agreement allowing Russia to lease a major Soviet-built radar station in Azerbaijan for 10 years.
Oskanian welcomed the improved relations between Baku and Moscow. He said: “Such changes in our region should have a positive impact on the general atmosphere, which I think is good for Armenia.”