Alexander Luchaninov, an independent military expert and retired colonel, believes that military exercises on the territory of Armenia are not connected with the political processes. «April and May are the two months, when all the Armed Forces units are in the active learning and testing process as it’s during the students’ session,» says the expert. Luchaninov also recalls that, according to Vladimir Putin’s set task, by 2020 the country’s Armed Forces need to be updated by 70%. «Of course, first of all the new equipment and weapons are provided to the forefront troops, that is the Caucasus,» mentions the expert.
However, it should be noted that compared to the previous year, the number of military exercises conducted by the Russian armed forces units stationed on the territory of Armenia, as well as the quantity of available arms to them has increased. This is evidenced by frequent media publications covering the maneuvers of troops and sharing information over the upgrade and addition of new types of weapons of the Russian military base in Gyumri.
On this occasion, the «RUSARMINFO» agency interviewed different experts of Russia. Igor Korotchenko, Chief editor of the «National Defense» magazine, believes that the Russian military base in Armenia is an important element of stability in the region and the protection of Armenia as a partner of Russia in the framework of the CSTO. «Taking into account the factor of availability of threats for Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan, I think that the Russian military presence in Armenia, holding back quite aggressive neighbors from any military encroachments, is an important factor in ensuring the national security. We, above all, contribute to the security of Armenia. For us it is a top priority,» says Korotchenko.
Regarding the cooperation between Russia and Azerbaijan on the supply of arms, Korotchenko mentions the following: «We have no military bases on the territory of Azerbaijan, and limited supplies of the Russian arms to this country do not violate the regional balance of forces.»
Vladimir Yevseyev, Head of the Caucasus Department of the CIS Institute, believes that the rearmament of the Russian military base in Armenia is due to the increasing influence of the terrorist organization «Islamic State», which already controls about 50% of the territory of Syria and 40% of Iraq. «If you look at the range of the IS, it is not so far from Armenia — only 300 km away,» says Yevseyev. «The Russian military base in Gyumri is of particular importance because, in fact, it is the only major Russian military force in the South Caucasus. First, in Russia there are opportunities for the modernization of the armed forces, and second, it is understood that in the event of adverse developments, including the destabilization in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it is very important for Russia to have a deterrent argument for Azerbaijan and Turkey,” adds Yevseyev.
«It is logical that those advanced models of military weapons that Russia owns are placed on the territory of Armenia to make realize the unfriendly states in the neighborhood of Armenia that Russia is not going to let anyone down and, moreover, it protects and is ready to fulfill its alliance commitments,» concludes the expert.