YEREVAN (Azatutyun,am)–Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan watched on Wednesday exercises held by a joint Russian-Armenian military force which Moscow and Yerevan agreed to reinforce two years ago.
The week-long exercises began on Monday, with hundreds of Armenian and Russian soldiers backed up by tanks, artillery systems and combat helicopter simulating defensive operations. Armenia’s Defense Ministry reported earlier that one of their objectives will be to “step up protection of the state border.”
A ministry statement released on Wednesday said military officials briefed Tonoyan on the course of the drills held at the Marshal Bagramyan training ground 50 kilometers west of Yerevan. The minister then watched soldiers of the Russian-Armenian United Grouping of Troops defeat an imaginary invader, said the statement.
The joint force was originally set up in 2000. It comprises troops from the Russian military base in Armenia and the Armenian army’s Fifth Corps mainly deployed along the Turkish border. A Russian-Armenian agreement signed in November 2016 was meant to upgrade its mission and ascertain its command-and-control structure.
In particular, the agreement stipulates that the commander of the Russian-Armenian unit is appointed by Armenia’s political leadership. The commander is subordinate to the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff in times of peace. He may report to the head of Russia’s Southern Military District in case of a war or imminent military aggression against Armenia or Russia.
Another Russian-Armenian agreement signed in late 2015 created a new, more closely integrated system of joint air defense. The Russian and Armenian militaries have been jointly protecting Armenia’s airspace ever since the mid-1990s.