The former commander of Russian troops in Syria on Thursday briefed Armenia’s Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian and top army generals on Russian military operations conducted in the war-torn nation.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said Colonel-General Aleksandr Dvornikov gave the “lecture” at its headquarters in Yerevan. Photographs released by the ministry showed that the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, Colonel-General Movses Hakobian, and at least two of his deputies were among several dozen military officials attending the event.
A ministry statement said Dvornikov, who now heads Russia’s Southern Military District, spoke about Russian tactics of fighting against the so-called Islamic State militant group in Syria and “specificities of modern warfare.”
The statement added that the lecture was organized “within the framework” of joint military exercises taking place at a training center about 50 kilometers west of Yerevan. More than 2,500 soldiers of the Armenian army, the Russian military base in Armenia and a rapid-reaction force set up by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) are taking part in the five-day drills that began on Monday. The Russian base is part of the Southern Military District.
It was not clear whether Dvornikov discussed the possibility of Armenian involvement in Russian operations in Syria.
Another top Russian military official said in August that Armenia and Serbia have expressed readiness to join a multinational “coalition” which Russia hopes would help its troops clear landmines there. Moscow formally proposed its creation at the United Nations in April.
The Armenian Defense Ministry said on September 11 that it is ready in principle to send sappers to “those parts of Syria where there are no ongoing hostilities.” But it stressed that their deployment must follow “all international legal procedures.” Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 20, President Serzh Sarkisian clarified that such a mission would have to have a UN mandate.