Armenia to send forces to Afghanistan this year

Published: Friday July 24, 2009

Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian during Army Day celebrations, Jan. 28, 2009. Photolure

Yerevan - Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian announced that Armenia will send forces to Afghanistan by the end of 2009.

Mr. Ohanian announced on July 21 that Armenia is discussing details of the deployment with Germany. He did not specify the number of service members to be deployed.

The Associated Press reports that officials have said Armenia would likely send munitions experts and communications officers. RFE/RL, quoting Defense Ministry spokesperson Colonel Seyran Shahsuvarian, reports that Armenia plans to send medical specialists and interpreters.

According to Mr. Ohanian, some Armenians who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s under the Soviet banner want to return as part of the new force.

Armenia had nearly 50 military personnel in Iraq.

Interviewed by RFE/RL, Caucasus Institute director Aleksandr Iskandarian said that by discussing the deployment of forces in Afghanistan, Armenia is trying to live up to its declared complementarity in foreign policy, which means "developing relations with Russia without harming relations with the West and vice versa."

Mr. Iskandarian argued that Armenia's other objective is to continue its military upgrading.

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Aleppo citadel - site of the AGBU celebration in Oct. 2008 (pictured) - is now in ruins. AGBU

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