By Emil Danielyan
Russia will transfer on Thursday a fresh batch of military equipment from one of its two military bases in Georgia to Russian troops stationed in Armenia, reports from Moscow said on Wednesday.
The Russian Regnum news agency reported that a trainload of nine military trucks and 300 tons of other equipment will enter Armenia as part of the ongoing gradual closure of the Russian base in the Georgian Black Sea city of Batumi. It quoted representatives of Russian ground troops as saying that there will be three more equipment shipments of this kind before the end of this year.
Under a Russian-Georgian agreement signed last year, Moscow is to close the bases headquartered in Batumi and the Armenian-populated town of Akhalkalaki by the end of 2008.
A Russian army spokesman told Regnum that the Akhalkalaki base will be shut down later this year. Part of its military hardware and other equipment was shipped to the Russian base in the northern Armenian city of Gyumri last year.
Unlike Georgia, Armenia is a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization and regards Russian military presence as a key element of its national security. Yerevan has made it clear that Russian troops will remain on Armenian soil in the foreseeable future despite its growing military ties with the West.