The Armenian Defense Ministry said on Friday that the team of Russian “military specialists” led by Major-General Valery Zhila has arrived in Yerevan for further negotiations with Armenian military officials.
A statement released by the ministry said Zhila briefed Armenian Defense Minister Arshak Karapetian on the “directions and volume of upcoming work” at a meeting held on Thursday. Karapetian specified, for its part, “the scope of issues of utmost importance to the Armenian side,” the statement said without elaborating.
Armenia moved to deepen its already close military ties with Russia 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 the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in May.
The Russian and Armenian militaries held at least two rounds of “staff negotiations” in the first half of this year. Karapetian’s predecessor Vagharshak Harutiunian said in January that they are aimed at “assisting us in the reform and modernization of Armenia’s armed forces.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reportedly assured Karapetian on August 11 that Moscow will continue to provide such assistance. Shoigu also signaled the start of more Russian arms supplies to the Armenian army.
Karapetian again visited Moscow two weeks later to attend the opening ceremony of an international arms exhibition and meet with top Russian defense industry executives. He said Armenia plans to buy modern Russian weapons but did not go into details.
“I can say that I haven’t heard a single word ‘no’ here,” the Armenian defense minister told reporters in the Russian capital.
Dmitry Shugayev, director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, listed Armenia among several countries with which Russia signed defense contracts on the sidelines of the Army-2021 Expo.
Earlier this week the TASS news agency quoted a senior military official in Moscow as saying that Russia and Armenia are now discussing a new agreement on a joint air-defense system.
The two states already have such a system that includes elements of a Russian military base stationed in Armenia. It was set up in the late 1990s and upgraded by a Russian-Armenian treaty signed in 2015.