“We attach great importance to developing our cooperation in the military sphere both in a bilateral format and within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization,” Shoigu said at the start of their talks held in Moscow. “We are ready to continue to assist in the implementation of the program of reforming Armenia’s armed forces.”
“It’s not an easy task, but I think that it can be accomplished with your experience,” he said, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Armenia is an ally and key partner of Russia in ensuring security in the South Caucasus and we are extremely interested in maintaining security in that region,” added Shoigu. He described the Russian military base in Armenia as a “guarantor” of regional security.
Karapetian was reported to reaffirm the Armenian government’s strong interest in further deepening military ties with Moscow.
“Russia is the only state that gives the Armenian people really tangible output for security and now deals with security issues not only in Nagorno-Karabakh but also along Armenia’s borders,” he told Shoigu.
In a statement on the talks, the Armenian Defense Ministry said the two sides reached “a number of important agreements regarding forthcoming cooperation programs.” It did not elaborate.
Yerevan moved to step up Russian-Armenian military cooperation shortly after the six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire last November. Moscow has since deployed troops in Armenia’s Syunik province bordering districts southwest of Karabakh retaken by Azerbaijan during and after the hostilities.
Yerevan requested additional Russian troop deployments along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan after Azerbaijani forces reportedly crossed some of its sections in May.
The lingering tensions along contested sections of the frontier were high on the agenda of Karapetian’s talks with Shoigu. The Armenian minister was reported to brief him on the latest developments there.
The Defense Ministry statement cited Karapetian as saying that while Armenia stands for a peaceful settlement of the border dispute it “will take all necessary measures to restore its territorial integrity.”
The two ministers met on Wednesday for the second time in two weeks.
Karapetian flew to the Russian capital on Tuesday about one month after high-ranking Russian and Armenian military officials concluded another round of “staff negotiations” in Yerevan.
The first such negotiations were held in January. Then Armenian Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian said they were aimed at “assisting us in the reform and modernization of Armenia’s armed forces.” Harutiunian and the chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, again discussed the reform in a July 8 phone call.
According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, Karapetian, who replaced Harutiunian in late July, thanked Shoigu for the Russian assistance to the ongoing “intensive reforms.”
“The minister emphasized that Russian-Armenian military-political relations are now in the process of reaching an unprecedentedly high level,” the ministry said.