11 Sep 2023 11:58

Armenia to host Armenian-U.S. military exercise on Sept 11-20

YEREVAN. Sept 11 (Interfax) - The Eagle Partner 2023 exercise will take place at the Zar training center of the Armenian Defense Ministry's peacekeeping brigade to prepare for international peacekeeping missions, the Armenian Defense Ministry said.

"The purpose of the exercise is to enhance interaction of a unit involved in international peacekeeping missions as part of peacekeeping operations, exchange best practices in control and tactical communication, and bolster the Armenian unit's readiness for assessments planned under the Operational Capabilities Concept of the NATO Partnership for Peace program," the ministry said.

The exercise will train stabilization operations for the conflicting sides while performing peacekeeping missions, it said.

According to the United States Army Europe and Africa, the exercise will involve 85 U.S. troops and 175 Armenian troops. In particular, servicemen from the First Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and the Kansas Army National Guard, which has had a partnership program with Armenia since 2003, will take part in the training.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in January 2023 that the hosting of a Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) exercise by Armenia was inexpedient.

In turn, head of the Armenian Parliament's Standing Commission on Foreign Relations Sarqis Khandanyan said that a decision to hold the Armenian-U.S. exercise was a result of the deepening bilateral relations.

"The decision to hold an exercise together with the United States is a sovereign decision of Armenia. I understand that various parties may have their concerns and express discontent. This decision is also a reaction and a result of deepening Armenian-U.S. relations," Khandanyan said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Armenian Ambassador to Russia Vagarshak Harutyunyan on September 8. A harsh representation was made and a protest was expressed in connection with certain actions and comments by the Armenian leadership.

"We have noted that the Republic of Armenia's official circles and political elite have recently expressed certain doubts about the reasonability of allied ties within the Collective Security Treaty Organization and with Russia on a bilateral basis, as well as the practicability of the package of trilateral agreements between Moscow, Yerevan, and Baku of 2020-2022 on ways to normalize Armenian-Azerbaijani relations," the ministry said in a statement.

"Against this backdrop, the Armenian leadership has undertaken a number of unfriendly steps in the past few days," including launching the process of ratifying the International Criminal Court's Rome Statute, the prime minister's wife Anna Hakobyan's trip to Kiev, and holding military drills involving the United States on Armenian territory, it said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on September 10 that Moscow regretted Yerevan's intention to hold a joint exercise with the United States.

"We don't see anything good in the attempts of an aggressive NATO member state to get into the South Caucasus. I don't think it is good for anyone, including Armenia itself," he said at a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday.

"No matter where the Americans show up, - and, as you know it, they have many bases all over the world, - it does not do any good anywhere," Lavrov said. "The actions of the Armenian leadership are regrettable," he said.

In addition, the agreement on joint Armenian-U.S. exercises "looks even stranger given that Armenia has been refusing to participate in exercises of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for two years now," he said.

"I really hope that all the alliance obligations existing between us, - and we value them - would finally have an impact and prevail in Armenia's foreign policy," Lavrov said.