Armenia Is Scaring NATO?

By Arthur Khachatryan

Armenia has launched military exercises "Interaction-2012". Collective Rapid Reaction Forces will respond the conventional enemy aggression. For this, all the CSTO states have gathered military units near Armenia. At the landfill "Baghramyan", located 50 km from Yerevan, there are deployed around 2 thousand troops. The purpose of the exercise is to strengthen military cooperation and achieve mutual understanding within the CSTO. As well as to show NATO military capabilities.

The CSTO Collective Rapid Reaction Force exercises have caused reasonable concern among the experts and politicians, including foreign policy elite. "Interaction-2012" claims to be the principal military event in Armenia for the current year, unless, of course, they manage to keep the peace with Azerbaijan.

The exercises are outstanding. Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Oganyakh has them unprecedented. In fact, there were the precedents: similar exercises were conducted on the territory of other CSTO member countries in 2009 and 2010, but their scale was smaller.

"These exercises demonstrate the readiness of Armenia and its CSTO partners to act as a force capable of providing regional security, or the necessary security of one or another state", says the director of the Armenian branch of the CIS Institute Alexander Makarov.

The exercise involve both ground and air forces, special forces and rapid operations forces. The CSTO wants to clearly show everyone its military capability. But first of all it wants to demonstrate it to the NATO, its principal enemy.

NATO is gradually getting to Russia's borders. Georgia is actively seeking to become a member of the organization, making real steps in this direction. At the recent visit to the country the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed his satisfaction with Georgia's work on this direction. NATO has also showed its interest in close cooperation with Armenia. Of course, this annoys official Moscow, which is considering all the post-Soviet countries, at least most of them, the spheres of its influence.

Another important aspect, fueling the interest to the incident, is Russia's parallel military exercises "Kavkaz-2012" ("Caucasus-2012") in the south of the country. These exercises are much larger in the scale then the "Interaction-2012". Many experts believe this is a deliberately coincidence step, through which Russia is seeking to demonstrate its military power.

An expert, Alexander Makarov, adheres an opposite opinion, believing that the exercises "Kavkaz-2012" and "Interaction-2012" have no direct connection. "The CSTO exercises of the - these are the pre-planned events, not an event in response to someone's visit (the expert means the visit of the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Armenia - Ed.)", he said.

"Interaction-2012" is extremely important for Armenia. After the extradition of Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan the situation in the region has aggravated; the troops on the border have been put on alert. The CSTO exercises - this is another opportunity to show a willingness to counter aggression enemy".

Mr. Makarov considers these exercises, membership in the CSTO and the Russian military base in Armenia - they are the parts of Armenia's security policy. "Our security includes several components. In this context, these exercises must show the readiness of the armed forces of Armenia to respond any possible and impossible attack. Second component of our security is the bilateral agreements between Armenia and Russia. Under these agreements, the presence of the Russian military base in Armenia is the determining factor of regional stability".