In Late 2008 Russia Delivered to Armenia Arms in the Amount of $800 Million - January, 2009


Needless to say, Armenia is Russia's only foothold in the strategic south Caucasus; I'm even proud to say its only military outpost. Regardless of what Armenian officials say, the news about Russia delivering a large amounts of arms to Armenia is most probably true. Sometime ago Moscow announced that it's moving additional troops and military hardware to Armenia, there was even talk about setting up a new military base there. These may have been a direct result of a recent report that suggested Armenia's military will be suffering from personnel shortages for the next several years. Therefore, there is an urgency. I believe that Moscow may be attempting to enhance Armenia's military deterrence. Moreover, Moscow will seek to further consolidate its presence in the Caucasus politically, economically and militarily now that the US, as well as NATO, has been effectively expelled from the region.

Arevordi

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In Late 2008 Russia Delivered to Armenia Arms in the Amount of $800 Million


Day.Az has asked some questions on this topic among some deputies of Milli Medjlis of Azerbaijan:

January, 2009

Deputy chairman of the parliamentary commission on issues of defense and security Aydin Mirzazade: "It can be featured only as international scandal. One of the conflict parties is supplied with different weapons in the amount of about $800,000,000. Considering the fact that currently the annual military budget of Armenia makes $400,000,000 is turning into a large military storehouse. At the same time considering the fact that Russia is one of the co-chairs of the OSCR Minsk Group, which is bound to mediate in the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict, the position of our northern neighbor is surprising. It is unclear to the Azerbaijani community, why it is done so and what international law is takaen as a basis. Russia must mediate and adhere to a just position, which implies the return of 20% of Armenian occupied lands to Azerbaijan. Russia must be interested in the demilitarization of this region. But instead of it we see that our strategic ally supplies the occupant with weapons in the large amount. The aim of this armament is clear - it is Azerbaijan, occupation of new lands, destabilization of the situation in the region. We would like to get a clear response from Russia. It is clear that Armenia purchases weapons from Russia. But its supply with such a great volume of arms can affect the situation in the region. We demand the return of these arms and Armenia's demilitarization. This contradicts to the Moscow declaration, undersigned by the President of Russia. What is that? The protest against the Moscow declaration by some circles of Russia or provocation against the Russian President? Anyway, those responsible for these provocation must be found, their names made public and they must be punished".

Deputy Zahid Oruc: "I think Russia's actions contradict to international documents it joins it. Though they try to explain their actions as being legal in the framework of the CSTO with Armenia, anyway, this is a violation of international norms. Russia's policy on Armenia's militarization can be qualified the lack of Russia's interest in the peaceful resolution of the conflicts in the South Caucasus. This allows other geopolitical plays to undertake adequate steps. Russia's such actions make possible the access of military circles from other countries to our region, as any country will try to restore the violated military balance by other alternative ways. Therefore, Azerbaijan and Georgia can search other variants of their security and try to distance from Georgia. This is not the first time when Georgia supplies Armenia with arms in a significant amount free of charge. In the 1990s late general Lev Rokhlin revealed the free supply of arms in the amount of $ 1 bln to Armenia. I think Ryussia must respond about its actions as they damage their mediation activity on the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict".

Deputy Asim Mollazade: "It should be reminded that the issue of supply of arms in a greater amount of money from Russia to Armenia was discussed in the 1990s. Now they have transferred arms in the amount of $800,000,000, which proves that the aggressor is armed and therefore, less arms is supplied. I think that Azerbaijan must draw attention of the world community and international organizations so that to make it clear who is an aggressor and who is behind it all".

Deputy Jamil Hasanly: "This fact can not be a surprize for us. I think that the country, which supplies Armenia with arms in the amount of $800 mln to Armenia, has no moral right to be one of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group".

Deputy Gudrat Hasaquliyev: "This fact proves once again that Russia continue to supply arms to the CIS state, which has been occupying a part of another CID country. This is another fact proving that earlier Russia acted the same way. This proves that Russia does not support friendly relations with Azerbaijan, as it says, unilaterally supports Armenia and is not interested in the fair resolution of the Karabakh conflict. I think the Azerbaijani government must raise this issue in UN, OSCE, in particular in the OSCE Minsk Group". It should be noted that due to the New Year vacations in the Russian embassy to Azerbaijan, Day.Az did not manage to learn comments of the Russian side about this issue.


Armenia Denies Receiving $800 mln Worth of Russian Arms

Armenia's Defense Ministry on Monday denied a report from Baku alleging that Russian arms had been handed over to Yerevan. Azerbaijani media previously reported that arms worth a total of $800 million had been transferred to Armenia from a Russian military base in the country. "That is yet another piece of disinformation by Azerbaijani propaganda. I don't think there is a need to comment on it," said the Armenian defense minister's press secretary, Col. Seiran Shakhsuvaryan. Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry said earlier on Monday that it was studying the report. "As soon as the necessary information is obtained, the Foreign Ministry will formulate its position," said Elkhan Polukhov, first secretary of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry. Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia became strained when Nagorny Karabakh, a region in Azerbaijan with a largely Armenian population, declared its independence from Azerbaijan to join Armenia in 1988. The enclave has been a source of conflict ever since.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20090112/119438311.html


In related news:


A Crossroad for Russia and America



In August of last year, a new Russia presented itself to the world. From the battlefield of Georgia, the message said: We are no longer seeking the good opinion of the West. The new taste for confrontation was seen by many as a byproduct of oil and gas wealth, which had given Russia’s leaders the confidence to risk international isolation. In the title of a book he published in April, the scholar Marshall Goldman offered a one-word explanation: “Petrostate.” That thesis may have a short shelf life. Russian leaders, no longer hoping to make the ruble an international reserve currency, now face a confluence of disasters: The price of a barrel of oil has slid below $40, shares of Gazprom fell 76 percent in a year and more than a quarter of Russia’s cash reserves have been spent shoring up the ruble. But does that mean we can expect a thaw between Russia and America? The question arises at a moment of high tension. The deadlock between Russia and Ukraine on gas prices has drawn in all of Europe; violence in Georgia could flare up again. Barack Obama’s Russia policymakers are taking office under the pressure of unfolding events. Henry Kissinger, who was in Moscow last month, is offering the hopeful view that the global financial crash could lead to “an age of compatible interests.” But others see the crisis pushing Russia in the opposite direction. So there are two paths:

SCENARIO 1: COOPERATION

In the global financial collapse, as Alexander Rahr of Germany’s Council on Foreign Relations put it: “We have all become weaker. We have all become poorer.” So, pressed by domestic concerns, both sides pare back their foreign ambitions. Washington slows its timetable on NATO expansion and missile defense; Russia defers the dream of recapturing the Soviet “privileged sphere of influence.” Leaders in Moscow present this to the public as a victory.

The logic here is straightforward: A cash-strapped Russia would need Western money and technology to develop its energy fields. State monopolies would seek foreign partners, and bare-knuckled power grabs like Russia’s past moves against BP and Shell Oil would look counterproductive. The “battle of ideas” within the Kremlin, as Igor Y. Yurgens, an adviser to President Dmitri A. Medvedev, describes it, would turn away from “isolation, seclusion, imperial instincts” and toward long-term partnership with the West. “If we take care of the crisis by isolating ourselves, if we don’t learn the lessons from what is already being done, then the fate of Russia can be the repetition of the fate of the U.S.S.R.,” Mr. Yurgens said. “I don’t think we are stupid enough.”

SCENARIO 2: RETRENCHMENT AND NATIONALISM

“Less resources means more selfish behavior,” as Sergei A. Markov, director of the Institute of Political Studies in Moscow, has said. In this case, Russia finds itself facing internal dissent and the threat of regional separatism, and lacking large piles of oil money to disburse in hopes of keeping control. Forced to fight for their own survival, political leaders tailor their policies to domestic public opinion. They focus on an external enemy — the United States, which leaders have already blamed for Russia’s financial crisis, and with whom Russia is already deeply irritated over the prospect of American military influence reaching Ukraine.

By this logic, it would be absurd to cede ground to the West now, after the long-awaited taste of satisfaction that Russians got in Georgia. Many Russians see the August war as a restoration of Russia’s rightful place in world events — a product not of oil wealth, but of the Russian society’s recovery from the Soviet collapse. “Russia has returned, period,” said Vyacheslav A. Nikonov, president of the Kremlin-aligned Polity Foundation. “That will not change. It will not get back under the table.” WHICH scenario is more likely? To begin, it is clear that Russian authorities are preparing to defend their political power. After presenting himself to the world as a liberal modernizer, President Medvedev has prioritized one major reform — lengthening the presidential term to six years. Last week, he signed a law eliminating jury trials for “crimes against the state,” and pending legislation would expand the definition of treason.

The authorities are nervous, it seems. Mr. Medvedev, in his State of the Nation speech, sent a barbed warning to “those who seek to provoke tension in the political situation.” And last month, riot police were sent 6,000 miles from Moscow to Vladivostok, where hundreds of people were protesting automobile tariffs, The Associated Press reported. “I just think they don’t trust what they can’t control,” said Clifford Kupchan of the Eurasia Group, a global risk-consulting firm based in New York. “Their instinctive reflex is to clamp when faced with uncertainty.” The first scenario, in which economic considerations dictate a more subdued foreign policy, requires conditions that may not exist. In the government, economic liberals might challenge hardliners. The constituencies who might back them up are ones that fell silent during the boom. “People in epaulets who feel they are middle class, people in bureaucracy who feel they are middle class, they could be part of this coalition,” Mr. Yurgens said. “Whether this coalition will be strong enough, I have no way of knowing.”

These days, Stephen Sestanovich, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, sees signs of “policy confusion” as Moscow’s leaders adjust to Russia’s sudden economic slide. Moscow has allowed the Georgia crisis to subside, but has escalated tensions over gas with Ukraine. The choice the elites face, Mr. Sestanovich said, is whether to keep talking in ways that make them look like “angry risk-takers and disturbers.” “Is that still their real view of themselves, and of the appropriate policy in a time of crisis?” he said. “It may be. But I’m not sure, and I don’t think they are.” The United States has real interests in a cooperative Russia; it wants help in curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and NATO needs more supply routes into Afghanistan. And with Mr. Obama’s arrival in the White House, there seems room for compromise on two big Russian concerns: possible NATO expansion to Ukraine and Georgia, and the plan to station missile-defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic.

But in the deep freeze of a Moscow January, the gains of August are still thrilling. When Mr. Putin went on television last week to cut gas shipments to Ukraine — retaliation, he said, for thefts from Russia’s pipeline — who could miss the glint of satisfaction at another tough-guy stance? Foreign policy emits an energy that goes far beyond mere economics, and the new year will call for all the resources Moscow can muster. To a Russia intent on reclaiming great-power status, there may be something elemental about resisting America. “It’s just the way things are,” said Mr. Nikonov, whose grandfather, Vyacheslav Molotov, was Stalin’s foreign minister. Searching his memory for periods of warmth between the two countries, Mr. Nikonov came up with two: March and April of 1917, and August through December of 1991.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/we...w/11barry.html


Russian Warships to Visit Syrian Port


A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet will visit on Monday the Syrian port of Tartus, where the Russian Navy keeps a maintenance and resupply site, a Navy spokesman said. The task force, which includes the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Admiral Levchenko destroyer and the Nikolay Chiker salvage tug, is currently on a tour of duty in the Mediterranean. Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said the carrier group had carried out joint exercises with the Turkish Navy last week and would return to its duties in the Mediterranean Sea after visiting Tartus. The Soviet-era Navy maintenance site near Tartus is the only Russian foothold in the Mediterranean. Russian media reports have suggested the facility could be turned into a base for the country's Black Sea Fleet, which could lose its current main base in Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula in 2017. About 50 naval personnel and three floating piers are reportedly deployed at the Tartus site, which can accommodate up to a dozen warships, and Russia is expanding the port and building a pier in nearby El-Latakia. No official confirmation of the reports has been made.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20090112/119434778.html


Russia Has no Alternative to Sevastopol Base - Naval Experts


Establishing naval facilities in foreign countries will not replace Russia's Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol, former fleet commanders said on Tuesday. Russian media recently reported that Russia was planning to set up naval facilities in Yemen (Socotra), Syria (Tartus), Libya (Tripoli), Vietnam (Cam Ranh), among other countries, in the next few years as an alternative to the Sevastopol base in Ukraine's Crimea. "Even 10 Tartuses or Cam Rahns can't replace Sevastopol for the Russian Navy," said Adm. Viktor Kravchenko, commander of the Black Sea Fleet in 1996-1998. Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses a range of naval facilities in Ukraine's Crimea, including the main base in Sevastopol, as part of a 1997 agreement, under which Ukraine agreed to lease the bases to Russia until 2017. Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko announced in the summer that Ukraine would not extend the lease of the Sevastopol base beyond 2017, and urged the Russian fleet to start preparations for a withdrawal.

Although the agreement for Russia's use of the base includes a possible extension of the lease, with Moscow repeatedly saying it wants to negotiate on the issue, Ukraine reiterated in October that it would not permit an extension of Russia's naval presence in the country after 2017. "Sevastopol is a unique Russian base, which includes the entire infrastructure: piers, ammunition depots, food stores, roads, maintenance facilities, airstrips, etc," Kravchenko said. At the same time, the admiral emphasized the importance of the network of Russian naval bases around the world, including in the Mediterranean, for the quick deployment of the Russian Navy in urgent situations. Adm. Igor Kasatonov, commander of the Black Sea Fleet in 1991-1992, said the Mediterranean had always been an important region for Russia because it provides easy access to the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal and to the Atlantic through Gibraltar. "In this respect, bases in Syria can largely expand the capabilities and combat effectiveness of the Russian Navy. However, the facilities at Tartus, for example, will never be able to replace Sevastopol," the admiral said. The Soviet-era Navy maintenance site near Tartus in Syria is the only Russian foothold in the Mediterranean.

Russian media reports have suggested the facility could be turned into a base for the country's Black Sea Fleet, which could lose its current main base in Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula in 2017. About 50 naval personnel and three floating piers are reportedly deployed at the Tartus site, which can accommodate up to a dozen warships, and Russia is expanding the port and building a pier in nearby Latakia. Meanwhile, the deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces said last week that it was too soon to name any countries where the Russian Navy would like to deploy "basing points," but confirmed that the General Staff had backed the Navy command's proposal to develop naval infrastructure outside Russia. "At this stage it is too early to talk about the geographic location of the basing points. Negotiations are under way with the governments of the countries in question. Any premature disclosure could have a negative impact on the course of these negotiations," Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20090120/119711396.html

Report: Russia Plans Navy Bases in Libya, Syria,Yemen



In a sign of Moscow's growing foreign policy ambitions, military official says plan to be implemented within a few years 'without question'

Russia has decided to establish naval bases in Libya, Syria and Yemen within a few years, Itar-Tass news agency quoted military officials as saying on Friday, in a sign of Moscow's growing foreign policy ambitions. "It is difficult to say how much time it will take to create the bases for our fleet in these countries, but within a few years this will be done without question," a military official was quoted as saying. "The political decision on this question has been taken," the official said. A spokesman for the Russian navy could not immediately be reached for comment. A senior general said it was too early to name any foreign ports that could host Russian bases. "There are negotiations conducted with foreign governments. Such publications (on bases) may have a negative effect on the way of these talks," Itar-Tass quoted the Russian army's deputy chief of staff, Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, as saying. The Kremlin is seeking to play a more assertive role in world politics and has been using its military to project its new-found confidence beyond its borders. Analysts have said that the Syrian port of Tartus could be revived as a Russian naval base. During the Cold War, the Soviet navy had a permanent presence in the Mediterranean, using Tartus as a supply point. Russian media reported that opening a naval base in the Libyan port of Benghazi was among the main issues discussed during Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's visit to Moscow in October last year. Nogovitsyn said it was unclear when Russian naval bases abroad could open. "No one can forecast when this problem will be solved," he told Itar-Tass. "We need permanent bases, and this is very costly. You have to thoroughly calculate it all." Russia had to vacate the Cam Ranh base in Vietnam in 2002 because its rent was becoming a burden for the state coffers. "Now we have learnt to count our money," Nogovitsyn said.

Source: http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/Art...657463,00.html

Moscow Confirms Talks on Foreign Naval Bases



Russia believes it is too early to name any countries where its Navy would like to deploy "basing points," the deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces said on Friday. Russian media previously reported that Russia was looking at possible naval facilities in Yemen, Syria and Libya, among other countries. "At this stage it is too early to talk about the geographic location of the basing points. Negotiations are under way with the governments of the countries in question. Any premature disclosure could have a negative impact on the course of these negotiations," Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said. He said earlier in January that the General Staff had backed the Navy command's proposal to develop naval infrastructure outside Russia. Russian military officials are also on record as saying Moscow could build up its presence in the Mediterranean to make up for the loss of its naval base in Ukraine's port of Sevastopol. Russia is set to leave the Sevastopol base when the current lease agreement expires in 2017. The base has been a source of friction between Russia and Ukraine in recent years, as Ukraine's pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko has sought NATO and EU membership for the country and Russia has accused Kiev of "unfriendly" policies over its Black Sea Fleet base. Yushchenko has called for the Russian navy's early pullout, tougher deployment requirements and higher fees, demands that have not been backed by his former coalition ally, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Russia-Ukraine tensions heightened after several Black Sea Fleet warships dropped anchor off the Georgian coast during and after the armed conflict with Tbilisi over breakaway South Ossetia last month. Russia's naval base in the Crimea currently has 50 warships and patrol boats, along with around 80 aircraft, and employs coastal defense troops. The Soviet-era Navy maintenance site in Syria named Tartus is the only Russian foothold in the Mediterranean. Russian media reports earlier said the facility could be turned into a base. About 10 Russian warships and three floating piers are reported to be currently deployed there, and Russia is expanding the port and building a pier in nearby El-Latakia. Russia also plans to equip its military bases in Georgia's breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by late 2009. The chief of the Russian General Staff, General of the Army Nikolai Makarov, said in November that the Russian military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia will be fully staffed with 3,700 personnel each by the end of 2009.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20090116/119629941.html


U.S. Military Denies Plans to Set up Bases in Kazakhstan


The United States has no plans to deploy military bases in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan in Central Asia, a senior U.S. military official said on Wednesday. Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces expressed concern in December last year over what he said were U.S. plans to set up military bases in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan. Commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. David Petraeus, who met on Wednesday with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana, denied any knowledge of these plans, but said the Pentagon is holding talks with Kazakhstan on transits of military goods through the country to Afghanistan. Units from CENTCOM are deployed primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan in combat roles and have bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, and Central Asia in support roles. Despite its close military ties with Russia, Kazakhstan is striving to become the first country in Central Asia to achieve NATO-interoperability. The ex-Soviet republic joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program in 1994 and agreed to the NATO's Individual Partnership Action Plan in January 2006.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20090114/119491977.html

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