Russian army drill panics villagers in Panik, Armenia | News | DW | 19.07.2018
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Russian army drill panics villagers in Panik, Armenia

Representatives of the Russian army apologized to the Armenian government after conducting unannounced war games in a northwest village of Panik. Russia is Armenia's key military ally and has a base on Armenian soil.

Armenien - russische Militärausstellung in Jerevan (picture alliance/Sputnik/A. Melnikov)

Russian army often presents its latest wares at the arms fair in Yerevan

An unexpected military drill prompted protests from Armenia, after Russian soldiers descended on an Armenian village called Panik, deploying military vehicles and firing blanks.

The village in northwestern Armenia is near military training grounds used by Russian soldiers stationed in the ex-Soviet state.

Commenting on the Tuesday incident, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that "those responsible should be punished."

"I see this incident as a provocation aimed at Armenian-Russian relations, and also as a provocation against Armenian sovereignty," Pashinyan said.

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Russian officers apologize

Separately, Armenian defense minister David Tonoyan said he met the commander of the Russian base, Vladimir Elkanov, alongside Russia's top representatives in Armenia.

Read more: Russia mediates as Azerbaijan and Armenia accuse each other of ceasefire violations

Tonoyan said that "the Russian side officially offered their apologies and their assurances that they would be more consistent with the issues of planning and notification" in the future.

Armenian officials also said that the incident is being investigated and that Russian officers pledged it would not happen again.

Russia is a close ally of Armenia, which is locked in a conflict with yet another ex-Soviet state, Azerbaijan, over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia maintains a contingent of several thousand troops on Armenian soil. Ties between Yerevan and Moscow were sorely tested in 2015, when a Russian conscript serving in the base killed seven people. Separately, a local boy was killed after discovering unexploded ordinance.

dj/rc (AP, Interfax)


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