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20 Aug, 2010 10:44

Russia, Armenia strengthen military ties

Russia has pledged to help ensure Armenia’s security together with the Armenian armed forces, Armenian leader Serzh Sargsyan said after talks with President Dmitry Medvedev in Yerevan on Friday.

Russia and Armenia have prolonged the deployment of Russia’s military base in Armenia in the town of Gyumri until 2044. The protocol extending the lease of the base “expands the area of its geographical and strategic responsibility,” Sargsyan said at a news conference.

“Before the functions of the base were limited by the external borders of the former USSR,” the Armenian leader was quoted by Interfax as saying. Now the limitation contained in the 1995 deal has been removed from the agreement, he added.

Moscow will help ensure Armenia’s security together with that country’s armed forces, Sargsyan stressed. Consequently, Russia may also provide Armenian armed forces “with advanced weapons,” he added.

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Friday that Moscow was not considering leasing its S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Armenia. Earlier, Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport denied reports on selling S-300s to Azerbaijan.

Russia will continue helping broker a political solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Medvedev said on Friday. The Russian president, who is on a state visit in Armenia, stressed that Moscow is ready continue its mediatory mission and promote a solution “on the basis of mutually acceptable agreements.”

Medvedev described the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe as “the most effective mechanism in brokering a solution to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.” However, this format could be changed if the parties involved agree to it, he added. “Mediators cannot be imposed if the sides do not like them, or if their participation triggers justified doubts about their impartiality,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

The solution could be found on the basis of “principles of non-use of force or threat of force, the territorial integrity of the states, the equal rights and the rights for the peoples for self-determination,” the joint Russian-Armenian statement read.

Sargsyan is sure Medvedev’s visit will begin a new stage of development in bilateral relations. In the economic sphere, Russia received a contract from Armenia on the construction of a new power unit at an Armenian nuclear power plant.

Sergey Borisov, RT