“It was a pleasure to meet with Minister of Defense Suren Papikian of Armenia today to discuss the security situation in Ukraine, the challenges facing South Caucasus peace and stability, and ways to strengthen U.S.-Armenian defense cooperation,” U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl tweeted after the meeting. He gave no other details.
Pentagon spokesman David Herndon likewise said that Kahl and Papikian looked at “ways to strengthen the U.S.-Armenian defense relationship.”
“Dr. Kahl emphasized the U.S. commitment to peace and stability in the South Caucasus,” added Herndon. “In addition, the two leaders discussed the war in Ukraine and possible areas of mutually-beneficial cooperation.”
The Armenian Defense Ministry made no explicit mention of Ukraine in its statement on the talks.
Armenia has refrained from publicly condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, reflecting its close military, political and economic relations with Russia. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian made clear on Wednesday that Russian-Armenian ties will remain “strategic and allied.”
Despite its military alliance with Russia, Armenia has forged closer defense links with the U.S. and other NATO member states since the early 2000s. It has contributed troops to NATO-led missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and participated in multinational exercises organized by the Western alliance.
The Defense Ministry statement said Papikian and Kahl agreed to step up bilateral cooperation on peacekeeping operations as well as military education and medicine.
It also said that “at the request of the American side” Papikian briefed Kahl on the situation along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan where tensions seem to have risen in recent days.
Papikian visited a training center of the Kansas National Guard the start of his trip to the U.S. on Tuesday. The Kansas National Guard and U.S. Army Europe have provided considerable assistance to a special peacekeeping brigade of the Armenian army.