By Ruzanna Stepanian
The Armenian military denied on Tuesday reports that it is planning a short-term call-up of army reservists for the first time in almost a decade.
Fighting-age men, who have already served in the armed forces, have reportedly been summoned to military commissariats around the country in recent days. Some of them say they were told to report for a one-day training exercise later this month.
That has fueled rumors about an impending large-scale drafting of the reservists. Citing unnamed military sources, the pro-opposition newspaper “Iravunk” claimed on Tuesday that Armenian army units have been put on high alert, with soldiers and officers banned from going on leave for the moment.
The spokesman for the Defense Ministry, Colonel Seyran Shahsuvarian, was quick to refute the information. He said the reservists are simply being “embedded” with army detachments into which they might be drafted in the event of war.
“We periodically call up demobilized persons so that they know their place and role in a military unit in case, God forbid, a war breaks out tomorrow,” Shahsuvarian told RFE/RL.
Armenia’s chief military commissioner, General Artur Harutiunian, also issued a flat denial of the rumors. “As the republic’s military commissioner, I state that there is no draft or call-up underway,” he said in an interview. He added that his agency is simply double-checking the availability of the army’s reserve combat personnel.
However, some reservists say they have been told by lower-level commissariat officers to get ready to spend one or several days at military bases later this month. The Armenian military has conducted similar training sessions in the past.
“They are not kept [in the units] for a single day or hour this time,” Shahsuvarian said, adding that the men are only “called, embedded and told to go home.”
Harutiunian, for his part, said he will instruct his subordinates to stop sending written summonses in order to quash the rumors. “From now they will just say hello to [a reservist] by phone and tell him to come to a particular place in case of a war,” he said.
The officials would not give any numbers as to how many men will be affected by the ongoing registration. It is also not clear whether the effort is linked to renewed pessimism about a rapid resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia’s chief security challenge.