Armenia’s leadership on Tuesday declined to confirm or deny a senior Russian military official’s claim that that it is prepared to send a demining team to Syria.
Major General Alexander Novikov of the Russian army’s General Staff said late last week that Armenia and Serbia have expressed readiness to join an “international coalition” which Russia hopes would help its troops clear landmines in the war-torn country.
Moscow called for the creation of such a coalition through its permanent representative to the United Nations in April.
Asked by News.am whether Yerevan has indeed decided to join the Russian-led effort in Syria, President Serzh Sarkisian’s press secretary, Vladimir Hakobian, said: “When a decision is made and all issues are clarified, the public will be notified in an appropriate manner.” Hakobian did not comment further.
A spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry similarly told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Monday that the matter requires “further examination.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed possible Armenian involvement in demining operations in the historic Syrian city of Palmyra when he met with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian in Yerevan in April 2016. “I hope that our joint initiative can be implemented,” Lavrov said after the talks.
It is not clear whether Sarkisian and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about Syria when they met in the Russian city of Sochi on August 23. The Armenian presidential press service said they discussed “topical international and regional issues.”
Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military alliance of six ex-Soviet states.