Russia reinforces Armenia air base near Turkish border


MOSCOW: Russia has sent several fighter planes including fourth-generation jets and a transport helicopter to reinforce its air base in Armenia near the border with Turkey, the defence ministry said Saturday.

Four fourth-generation Mikoyan MiG-29 jets as well as a number of modernised MiG-29S bombers and a Mil Mi-8MT helicopter have been despatched to the base, a statement said. Russia’s base at Erebuni airport just outside the capital Yerevan already has nine fourth-generation MiG-29 planes designed to carry a payload of up to 4,000 kilograms of weapons and with larger fuel tanks, allowing them to spend more time on missions.

Russia also has a base for ground troops at Gyumri, some 55 miles (90 kilometres) from the capital of the ex-Soviet republic. Yerevan is around 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Armenia’s border with Turkey, which has been closed since 1993 due to the countries’ long-running feud.

Turkey refuses to recognise the genocide of Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915 and backs Azerbaijan in its territorial dispute with Armenia over Nagorny-Karabakh.