Saturday, December 16, 2023

Russian Military’s Arrest in Armenia of Soldier who Refused to Fight in Ukraine Sparks Concerns among Armenians about Russian Base at Gyumri

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 12 – Five days ago, Russian MPs from the Russian military base at Gyumri, Armenia, arrested a Russian citizen who had refused to fight for Ukraine, the first such detention of such “a refusenik” abroad but an action the Russian military said Vladimir Putin had ordered (

            That action has outraged human rights activists and sparked new concerns among Armenians about the Russian military base on their territory. And it has led some to demand that the base be closed now even Yerevan and Moscow signed an accord in 2010 allowing for it to continue to operate until 2044 (

            That base has been the source of concern to Armenians not only because soldiers and officers there have routinely violated the laws of Armenia but also because the forces there have done little or nothing to defend Armenia against attacks by Azerbaijan, despite appeals from Yerevan that they do so.

            At present, there are approximately 3300 Russian military personnel there; but under the 2010 bilateral agreement, there are no limits as to how many troops Moscow could insert, yet another aspect of the base that is raising concerns among Armenians. They are also unhappy with the fact that the agreement requires Yerevan to pay half of the expenses for the base.

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