Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu in Moscow on Tuesday one day after visiting NATO’s political and military headquarters in Belgium.
Ohanian and Shoygu met on the sidelines of a regular session of the defense ministers of ex-Soviet republics loosely aligned in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Official Armenian and Russian sources said they approved a program of joint Russian-Armenian military activities for next year.
According to a Russian Defense Ministry statement cited by the Regnum news agency, the two men “determined the priorities” of bilateral military cooperation and “prospects for further development of integration processes between the armed forces of Russia and Armenia.”
“The ministers paid special attention to the issues of organizing training of personnel for the Armenian armed forces at Russian military academies, where 244 Armenian servicemen are currently studying,” added the statement.
The two nations have maintained close military ties both in bilateral formats and within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led defense pact of six ex-Soviet states.
Over the past decade Armenia has sought to complement its military alliance with Russia with closer links with NATO. Ohanian underlined that policy on Monday when he travelled to the NATO military headquarters in Mons, Belgium and met with NATO’s top military commander, U.S. General Philip Breedlove.
In a statement, the Armenian Defense Ministry said Ohanian and Breedlove discussed ways of “enhancing the interoperability” of NATO and Armenian forces involved in multinational operations.Some 150 Armenian soldiers are currently involved in the NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Ohanian also held separate talks in Brussels with NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow. The statement said the two men praised the current state of Armenia-NATO ties and expressed hope that they “will continue developing with the same success.”
Official Yerevan remained committed to close cooperation with NATO even after a sharp deterioration of Russia’s relations with the West resulting from the conflict in Ukraine. President Serzh Sarkisian attended in September a NATO summit for the first time in more than five years.