Russia's Lease of Armenian Air Base Extended till 2044World | July 6, 2011, Wednesday // 15:52| views
An agreement between Russia and Armenia has allowed the former to extend its lease of an Armenian air base until 2044.
The agreement allowing Russia to field air force units at an Armenia base until 2044 went into effect on Wednesday, the Interfax news agency reported.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signed the defense treaty in a Moscow ceremony with his Armenian counterpart Edvard Nalbandyan.
The deal extends a 1992 lease allowing Russia to field MiG-29 interceptor jets, S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, and some 2 500 soldiers and officers at airfield some 120 km north of the Armenian capital Yerevan, DPA reported.
Approximately 2 000 Armenian soldiers and family members also live on the base, which operates as part of an Russia-managed air defense network covering most of the airspace of the former Soviet Union.
Under a similar agreement made in April 2010, Ukraine agreed to extend Russia's lease of the Sevastopol naval base in the Black Sea for the Russian Navy from 2017 until 2042, or even till 2049, if a second, five-year extension clause kicks in.
Russia and Armenia already have an excellent defense relationship and will sign new economic cooperation agreements in coming days, Armenian Foreign Minister Nalbandyan is quoted as saying, according to Interfax.
Ties between Moscow and Yerevan have been close for more than two decades since Armenia became a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a regional mutual defense treaty also including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.
Russia has traditionally supported Armenia in its long-standing deadlocked conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh province, which is technically in Azerbaijan but is controlled by Armenian forces.
Armenia and Azerbaijan need to accept compromise to resolve the conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said at the press conference on Wednesday.
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