YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — A visiting top Russian general met with Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutyunyan on Friday, January 20, for the second time in five days to discuss Russia’s close military ties with Armenia.

Colonel-General Sergei Istrakov, the deputy chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, arrived in Yerevan on January 25 for what the Armenian Defense Ministry described as “staff negotiations” between the armed forces of the two allied states. Istrakov began the trip with separate meetings with Harutyunyan and his Armenian counterpart, Colonel-General Onik Gasparyan.

A Defense Ministry statement released on Friday, said Istrakov met with Harutyunyan again to brief him on the results of the talks that touched upon “all directions of Russian-Armenian bilateral military cooperation.” They discussed joint activities planned by the two sides, the statement said without elaborating.

The Russian ambassador in Yerevan, Sergei Kopyrkin, met with Harutyunyan and Gasparyan on Thursday, January 28, to congratulate them on the 29th anniversary of the official creation of the Armenian army.

On Tuesday, Harutyunyan inspected the main command post of a joint Russian-Armenian system of air defense protecting Armenia’s airspace. He was accompanied by a Russian Air Force general.

“Vagharshak Harutyunyan stressed the need to deepen Russian-Armenian military cooperation, including in the area of air defense,” said the Defense Ministry.

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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian similarly announced plans to deepen Russian-Armenian relations in a televised address to the nation aired on New Year’s Eve He said his country needs “new security guarantees” after the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia already has close political, economic and military ties with Russia. It hosts a Russian military base and has long received Russian weapons at knockdown prices and even for free.

Moscow deployed 2,000 peacekeeping troops to Karabakh as part of a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement that stopped the war on November 10. In addition, it dispatched Russian soldiers and border guards to Armenia’s Syunik region southwest of Karabakh to help the Armenian military defend it against possible Azerbaijani attacks.


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