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Russian, Armenian Defense Chiefs Meet In Moscow


Russia - Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu (L) meets with his Armenian counterpart Davit Tonoyan in Moscow, 11 August 2018.

Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan has met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu in Moscow to discuss Russian-Armenian military ties and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, Tonoyan and Shoygu discussed “current issues and upcoming tasks” in bilateral defense cooperation. They “attached importance to consistent implementation of agreements based on mutual trust and joint strategic interests,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Speaking about military-technical cooperation, the Armenian and Russian defense ministers stressed the importance of timely realization of ongoing programs in this area,” it added in an apparent reference to Russian arms supplies to Armenia.

Last October, Russia provided Armenia with a fresh $100 million loan for buying more Russian weapons at discounted prices. The Russian “Kommersant” daily claimed on August 2 that the planned delivery of those weapons is now “in serious doubt.” The paper pointed to a rare diplomatic spat between Moscow and Yerevan sparked by criminal charges brought in Armenia against the secretary general of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, Yuri Khachaturov.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Aleksandr Fomin denied the “Kommersant” report when he visited Armenia on August 3. “Everything is on track,” Fomin told reporters.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service in Moscow on Friday, Tonoyan expressed confidence that all Russian-Armenian defense agreements will be “mutually realized.” “At least, we are getting no indications to the contrary,” he said.

In its official press release on Shoygu’s talks with Tonoyan, Russia’s Defense Ministry only cited the Armenian minister’s comments on the annual International Army Games organized by the Russian military. Tonoyan attended, together with Shoygu and other foreign dignitaries, the closing ceremony of the latest games held near Moscow.

According to his press office, Tonoyan also briefed Shoygu on the current situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and, in particular, Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave.Yerevan has reported increased tension at some sections of that border where Azerbaijani troops have moved their positions closer to Armenian army posts in May.

The Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, on Monday accused the Azerbaijani side of resorting to more “provocations” there. “The Armenian armed forces yesterday responded with fire to Azerbaijani provocations in the Nakhichevan direction,” he wrote on Facebook. “As a result, we do not exclude Azerbaijani combat casualties.”

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported that one of its soldiers serving in Nakhichevan was shot and wounded by Armenian forces on Sunday. It accused Yerevan of continuing to “systematically escalate the situation in the Nakhichevan direction.”

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