Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu described Armenia as Russia’s key regional ally and said Russian-Armenian military cooperation will continue unabated during a visit to the South Caucasus state on Tuesday.
Shoygu met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan after inspecting Russian troops stationed in Gyumri.
“Russia highly appreciates its cooperation with friendly Armenian and considers the republic an ally and key partner in the Transcaucasus,” he told Pashinian.
“We note the Armenian side’s support for Russia’s main positions on the international agenda,” he said, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
After their separate talks in Yerevan, Shoygu and Tonoyan signed a plan of Russian-Armenian military cooperation for next year. It reportedly includes more than 60 joint activities by the armed forces of the two nations.
“We are planning to continue our partnership just as intensively, without reducing the accumulated tempo,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Shoygu as saying during the talks with his Armenian counterpart.
Earlier in the day, Shoygu visited the Gyumri headquarters of the Russian military base in Armenia. “The base is combat-ready and, being a guarantor of stability, is ready to confront emerging threats and challenges jointly with the armed forces of Armenia,” he told Pashinian.
Both Pashinian and Tonoyan also praised the current state of bilateral defense ties and, in particular, “military-technical cooperation,” an official euphemism for Russian arms supplies to Armenia.
Russia has always been the principal source of military hardware supplied to the Armenian army. Membership in Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) allows Armenia to acquire Russian weapons at knockdown prices and even for free.
Russia has also trained scores of Armenian army officers and cadets at its military academies. Shoygu said that 248 Armenians are currently studying at 25 such institutions. Moscow and Yerevan are planning to “increase this number,” he said.