Armenian Government’s Precarious Balancing Act With Russia

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 16 Issue: 165

By: Armen Grigoryan

November 21, 2019 05:23 PM Age: 4 days

Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu (left), arrives in Armenia, October 29 (Source: azatutyun.am)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently paid their first visits to Armenia since the 2018 “Velvet Revolution.” Shoigu visited Armenia on October 29, just before traveling to Baku to participate in a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) defense ministerial. While in Armenia, Shoigu first met with the commanders of the 102ndRussian military base in Gyumri, where it was announced that the base would receive new types of weapons. Afterward, Shoigu and Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan met in Yerevan and signed a plan for cooperation during 2020, which, in particular, will mostly include increased intensity of bilateral military drills. Armenian officials also stated that Russia would supply Su-30SM fighter planes in late 2019 or early 2020 (Azatutyun.am, October 29).

Lavrov’s two-day working visit to Yerevan was widely expected to address another aspect of bilateral cooperation (or depending on one’s interpretation, Armenia’s deepening dependence on Russia): according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, the two sides were preparing to sign a memorandum on cooperation in biomedicine, which would allow Russian military experts to access a biological research laboratory built in Armenia with assistance from the United States (see EDM, November 4). Later media accounts, however, reported that the signing of the biomedicine cooperation memorandum had been postponed, as it “was not ready yet” (RBC, November 11). Still, Lavrov said that it would hopefully be concluded in the near future (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, November 11).

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