The following news from Moscow is quite significant in my opinion. Apparently, 700 new Russian troops will be sent to Armenia early next year to bolster Armenia's defenses as a result of a shortage of new conscripts in Armenia.
Russian Defense Minister has decided to send 700 draftees to serve as peacekeepers in Armenia. The number of servicemen is not sufficient in Armenia, so the draftees will be sent to replenish the personnel,” said Alexandra Vrakina, chairperson of the council of parents of Prikamye, Russia. “After a training course the soldiers will be sent to Armenia, apparently early next year,” she said, 59.ru reports.
In other news:
Armenian Defense Reforms ‘Nearly Complete’
President Serzh Sarkisian announced on Thursday the impending completion of defense reforms that are meant to bring the Armenian military into greater conformity with Western standards and practices. The reforms were launched in 2005 as Armenia stepped up its cooperation with NATO under an “individual partnership action plan,” or IPAP. They envisaged, among other things, greater civilian control over the military and a so-called “civilianization” of the Armenian Defense Ministry. The ministry’s organizational structure has until now mirrored that of the formerly Soviet and now Russian armed forces, with army officers holding just about every ministerial position and facing little civilian oversight. The Armenian government pushed through parliament recently a law that allows the Defense Ministry to hire civilian personnel. In what appears to be a follow-up measure, the government approved on Thursday the new statutes and structures of the ministry and the Armenian army’s General Staff. Sarkisian personally chaired the cabinet session to underline the significance of the changes. He said Armenia is “nearing the completion of the reforms in the defense sphere” which will “further reinforce the defense capability of our state.” “A few more days, and we will finally have the [new] structures of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff,” Sarkisian told ministers. “Their functions will be completely delineated, and our Defense Ministry will operate in new conditions.” As part of the reforms, the government adopted last year Armenia’s national security strategy and military doctrine. Both documents state that Armenia will increasingly cooperate with the armed forces of the United States and other NATO member states in reforming its military and contributing to international security. More specifically, they commit Yerevan to expanding its involvement in Western-led peace-keeping operations abroad. The Armenian military has already deployed troops in Kosovo and Iraq and is considering joining the NATO-led multinational force in Afghanistan. The doctrine at the same time makes clear that “strategic partnership” with Russia will remain the bedrock of Armenia’s defense policy. It says the two countries will continue to maintain close military ties both on a bilateral basis and within the framework of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Additional information about Russia's military presence in Armenia:
Russian 102nd Military Base, Gyumri Armenia
Russian 102nd Military Base (video presentation): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noqMHlYYNrc
Armenian-Russian Military Base // Armenia (video presentation): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMqd4Dr_bF4
Additional pictures of the 102 Russian base in Gyumri: http://pilot.strizhi.info/2007/01/03/1552
Russian 102nd Military Base is a Russian military base in Gyumri, Armenia, part of the Transcaucasian Group of Forces. It was formerly the Soviet Army's 127th Motor Rifle Division. The base is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the Armenian capital Yerevan. There are 3,000 Russian soldiers officially reported to be stationed at the 102nd Military Base located in Gyumri. In early 2005, the 102nd Military Base had 74 tanks, 17 infantry fighting vehicles, 148 armored personnel carriers, 84 artillery pieces, 30 Mig-29 fighters and several batteries of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. A great deal of military hardware has been moved to the 102nd Base from the Russian military bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki, Georgia which includes 35 tanks and armored vehicles and 370 pieces of military hardware. The military base is part of a joint air defense system of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which was deployed in Armenia in 1995. Furthermore, Armenian air force relies upon the Russian Mig-29s located in the military base, for the defense of the Armenian airspace. The Russian military base was deployed on the territory of Armenia as early as 1996. The bilateral treaty states that the Russian military will be in the base for 25 years, but Armenian authorities have said that if needed this time-frame can be reviewed, and exclusively in the direction of prolongation. Also Russia does not pay Armenia for the military base stationed in Gyumri; moreover the Armenian side takes care of all public utilities water, electricity, etc. In 1997, Armenia and Russia signed a far-reaching friendship treaty, which calls for mutual assistance in the event of a military threat to either party and allows Russian border guards to patrol Armenia’s frontiers with Turkey and Iran. Previously the 127th Motor Rifle Division consisted of the 123rd, 124th, and 128th Motor Rifle Regiments, the 992nd Artillery Regiment, and the 116th Independent Tank Battalion. The 123rd Motor Rifle Regiment was formed from the former 164th Motor Rifle Division in Armenia.
3624th Russian Air Force Base, Erebuni Armenia
Южный щит страны проверили на прочность. Учения на авиабазе Эрегуне: http://zvezdaarmy.ru/sugeti/2008/05/...y-schit-strany
MiG-29s in Erebuni Air Base, Armenia (video presentation): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvOrSCRYlsQAdditional pictures of Erebuni based Mig 29 fighters: http://pilot.strizhi.info/2007/01/03/1522
Satellite imagery of the 3624th Russian Air Force Base in Erebuni: http://virtualglobetrotting.com/view...ce=0&mid=23205
TV REPORTS ON AIR DEFENCE EXERCISE AT RUSSIAN AIR BASE IN ARMENIA
[Presenter] The country's southern shield is being tested for robustness: alert signals were sounded again at the Russian air base in Armenia. Fighter aircraft are scrambled into the air. A few minutes into the flight it becomes clear that it was a practice alert.
The air defence forces on the ground also tested their readiness to repel attacks. Our special correspondent Andrey Kovtunenko followed the military exercise in Armenia's peaceful skies.
[Correspondent] [Passage omitted] It is battle quarters at the Russian air base of Erebuni. [Passage omitted] While the pilot is getting ready for the flight, the technicians, having run 100 metres [to the aircraft], are removing covers from a MiG-29. A few minutes later, the pilot jumps into the xxxxpit and is ready to take off. [Passage omitted]
The border with Turkey is only 14 km away - for a MiG, it is just a couple of minutes. Therefore, depending on the combat mission, [the pilot] has to turn one way or the other and fly back.
In 1998, the air group revamped its fleet: MiG-29s went on combat training duty at the CIS combined air defence system. It is now 10 years since the MiG-29 started protecting the skies over Armenia. The aircraft has acquitted itself well in hot conditions and in the mountains. Experienced pilots treat this aircraft with respect: it is easy to run and reliable in combat.
One can only speak to the pilot after he has accomplished his combat mission: traditionally, they do not give interviews before the flight.
[Yevgeniy Yakimov, captioned as an aviation regiment commander; in the cockpit after landing] We perform air defence tasks in the CIS combined air defence system. We are performing our tasks successfully. On 22 [presumably April] there was a major large-scale exercise at the CIS combined air defence system. We achieved our objective in full.
[Correspondent] Only a few years ago, Turkish pilots often staged aerial tests for ours. Nowadays, this is a rare occurrence.
[Pavel Maratkanov, captioned as deputy commander of the air base for educational work] It is not often that we are scrambled into action but it happens. Sometimes they make sorties to test us - but not often. The most recent incident was last year.
[Correspondent] While pilots polish their aerial skills, the missile defence system is on permanent combat duty. Russian and Armenian officers track all aerial targets together.
At the air defence base near Gyumri [also in Armenia], meanwhile, the S-300 and Kub-3M missile defence systems are on alert. Servicemen from this regiment recently took part in an exercise in Ashuluk [in southern Russia]. Their performance was marked as excellent.
[Aleksandr Surinkin, captioned as anti-aircraft regiment commander] At the 2008 tactical exercise with live firing, the regiment fired on evading low-flying aerial target. The target was destroyed at the maximum range. The mark was excellent.
[Correspondent] It is no secret to anyone here that Armenia regards the 102nd Russian military base deployed in the republic as an element of it national security. In this country, they value friendly relations.