Russian Military Contingent to Double in Armenia

Global Insight
June 21, 2012

Russian Military Contingent to Double in Armenia

BY: Lilit Gevorgyan

Colonel Igor Gorbul, a spokesperson for Russia’s Southern Military
District, was quoted by the state-owned Russian news agency RIA
Novosti as saying that the figure of 5,000 “permanent” troops in
Russia’s 102nd Military Base at Gyumri, northern Armenia, will remain
unchanged in the long term, but will temporarily be doubled. Colonel
Gorbul also stated that the permanent military personnel will also
receive higher salaries and other benefits. The increase in troop
numbers is likely to be linked to the upcoming Kavkaz 2012 military
drills. These military exercises will take place in September,
involving the Russian military capabilities in the region, and follow
increased instability in the region, including more intensified talks
of a possible Israeli attack on Iran, which Russia strongly opposes.

Significance:The increase in the Russian troop numbers, although
potentially linked to the Kavkaz 2012 military drills, are also a
strong message for Armenia’s neighbouring Azerbaijan, recently accused
by Armenia of crossing the international border and staging two deadly
incursions into Armenia’s north-eastern Tavush region. Azerbaijan has
denied the incursions but reported that a number of its troops were
killed in its Ghazakh region neighbouring Armenia’s north-eastern
province. Armenia, unlike Azerbaijan, is a member of the Russian led
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) which also provides a
collective security guarantee to Armenia. In March this year the CSTO
Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha stated that, “If unfriendly
actions are taken against Armenia, all member states will provide
relevant assistance to Armenia.” In the absence of any peacekeepers in
the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, the precarious peace rests on
deterrence. The Russian military presence is Armenia’s attempt to
balance Azerbaijani military spending, which it cannot match.

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