Vladislav Shurygin: "It makes no sense for Russia to keep military base in Gyumri"
Russian military base in Gyumri has repeatedly attracted attention due to reports about criminal activities. Politically, some experts call it "an important component of Russian-Armenian relations," while others believe that this base has no real meaning anymore. Latter group includes chief editor of the "Journalist Truth" newspaper, Vladislav Shurygin. He spoke about his point of view in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- What is significance of the 102nd military base in Gyumri for Russia today?
- I believe that this base is useless. There's no point in keeping it anymore. It was a personal concession, or, more precisely, personal favor of late Minister Defense Pavel Grachev, who maintained good relations with Armenian leadership. In order to guarantee protection to Armenia, he created this military base there. It never played any serious military role, just demonstrated our presence there. Considering policy and role of the current Armenian leadership, we can easily get rid of this base and not lose anything in the meantime.
- Does this mean that Russia doesn't need to maintain military presence in Armenia at all?
- This presence isn't of great importance for one simple reason - Armenia is an isolated state. Political future of this country depends on how it will build relations with its neighbors. It was always preferable for us to have better relations with Azerbaijan, but due to certain political circumstances, we have developed them poorly.
- Is military cooperation with Azerbaijan in Russia's interests?
- Of course. First of all, Azerbaijan is a fairly rich country that's able to purchase lot of different weapons. Second of all, Azerbaijan and Russia are traditionally connected by friendly obligations. Azerbaijan relies on the Russian Federation in certain issues. This does not mean that Azerbaijan is going to rush into Russia's arms tomorrow, but it needs close and predictable relations with our country.