Armenia’s deputy defense minister has recently toured a NATO training facility in Germany and met with high-ranking officials there. Lt. Gen. Edvard Asryan, who heads the Armenian general staff, was hosted by US Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Basham, the US European Command (EUCOM) deputy commander, at its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Asryan also visited the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, a US-operated NATO training facility.
During the visit, the American host hailed the visit as a “milestone” in the bilateral relationship and emphasized the desire of the US and Armenia to “deliberately and incrementally develop our defense relationship.” Asryan briefed the American host on Yerevan’s plans to make its military more professional and capable, identifying command and control systems, battlefield medicine, and the training of non-commissioned officers as key areas for reform. He also detailed the assistance that Armenia is expecting from the US in implementing these reforms.
The visit comes at a crucial time for Armenia, which faces challenges in the aftermath of its conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Despite being a Russian ally and a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is a regional defense bloc, Armenia has been seeking help from the US to reform its armed forces.
The Azerbaijani conflict, which resulted in the loss of control of Nagorno-Karabakh, has strained Armenia’s ties with its traditional ally, Russia. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accused the CSTO of failing to protect Armenia during the conflict and has distanced himself from Moscow. In the wake of the conflict, Armenia has faced political turmoil, with mass protests against Pashinyan’s government and calls for his resignation.
The situation was further complicated by Russia’s position on the conflict. Moscow stated that it could not intervene in Nagorno-Karabakh, citing Pashinyan’s acknowledgment of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the region. This has prompted Armenia to seek support from other international allies, including the United States.
The visit of the Armenian deputy defense minister to Germany underscores the evolving dynamics of Armenia’s defense and security partnerships. As it navigates its complex regional challenges, including the aftermath of the conflict with Azerbaijan, Armenia is engaging with both traditional and new partners to strengthen its defense capabilities. The discussions and interactions between Armenia and the US in Germany could signal a shift in Armenia’s defense posture and its efforts to enhance its military capabilities.