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Military

Iran Press TV

Armenian parliament ratifies treaty on joint air defense system with Russia

Iran Press TV

Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:14PM

Armenian lawmakers have ratified an agreement on joining a unified air defense system with Russia in the Caucasus region.

A total of 102 out of 131 lawmakers voted in favor of the deal on Thursday, while eight voted against it.

Armenia's Deputy Defense Minister Ara Nazaryan applauded the deal as a boost to the landlocked Caucasus country's defense system.

"With this agreement we will be able to use the technical capabilities and resources of Russia's air defense, including weapons, aircraft, and the ability to use fighter aircraft," Nazaryan added.

He told a session of parliament that the command of the joint air defenses will be in Russia but Armenia's military will control separate air defense systems.

"In peacetime, the sides will be able to make their own decisions on how to use the troops under their control. The sides will need to notify each other of these decisions and actions," Nazaryan noted, adding, "Armenia will have a right to use its air defense to the extent and for the purposes it deems necessary."

The pro-Western opposition Heritage party, in a statement, decried the decision, saying it cedes the country's sovereignty to Moscow, which also has sizeable military cooperation with Azerbaijan. Yerevan has deep-seated rifts with Baku over the disputed region of Karabakh.

"This is an attempt to hand over the last bits of Armenian sovereignty to a foreign state that sold USD 5 billion worth of weapons to Azerbaijan," the statement added.

The development comes as Moscow is working on merging the air defense capabilities of its former Soviet partners that are now its military allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Russia has stepped up military cooperation with its CSTO allies to counter NATO amid rising tensions with the Western countries over the Ukraine crisis.

NATO has stepped up its military build-up near Russia's borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Crimean Peninsula re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.

Moscow has on many occasions slammed NATO's expansion near its borders, saying such a move poses a threat to both regional and international peace.

Russia has also criticized NATO's expansionist policy to include countries in the Western Balkan region, saying the move directly harms Russia's strategic interests in the area.



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