Last month, Russia announced a $200 million credit for Armenia to buy weapons systems, days after adding four warplanes to its contingent in the country. In an email interview, Michael Cecire, an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, discussed security ties between Russia and Armenia.
WPR: What is driving Russia and Armenia’s recent moves to boost bilateral security ties?
Michael Cecire: The escalation of the Turkey-Russia crisis is an inescapable factor. The Russian garrison in Gyumri and its airbase outside Yerevan are both close to the Turkey-Armenia border, across from which Turkey has reportedly deployed some units of its own in the wake of its downing of a Russian SU-25 and subsequent heightened tensions between Ankara and Moscow. However, the composition of the Russian deployment in Gyumri, though potent, could not be confused with any kind of overwhelming show of force compared to Russia’s previous military posture in Armenia. Russian media reports that claimed as many as 7,000 Russian troops were on their way to reinforce its existing contingent are certainly overblown.