Armenia-U.S. joint exercise “EAGLE PARTNER 2024”

Armenia-U.S. joint exercise “EAGLE PARTNER 2024”

YEREVAN, JULY 6, ARMENPRESS. Adjutant General for the U.S. State of Kansas Brigadier General Michael Venerdi has addressed the Armenia-U.S. joint exercise “EAGLE PARTNER 2024” to be held from 15 to 24 July in Armenia.

“Over the years, the Kansas National Guard has built a strong cooperative relationship with the Republic of Armenia,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Venerdi, Adjutant General of Kansas.

“Working side by side with our Armenian partners in exercises such as Eagle Partner strengthens the trust and friendships between our nations and the men and women of our military services, ” US Embassy in Armenia quoted him as saying.

Amid its deepening rift with longtime ally Russia, Armenia announced on Saturday that it will host another joint military exercise with the United States this month.

The Armenian Defense Ministry said the Eagle Partner 2024 exercise scheduled for July 15-24 will involve soldiers of its special peacekeeping brigade, U.S. Army Europe and Africa and the Kansas National Guard. It said that for the purpose of increasing their interoperability the participating troops will practice taking “stabilization actions” during a joint peacekeeping operation in an imaginary conflict zone.

“The exercise will build on Armenian and U.S. collective ability to conduct peacekeeping operations by performing gunnery and stability training, weapons familiarization, and range management,” read a separate statement released by U.S. Army Europe and Africa. “Conducting this training allows troops from both nations to become familiar with each other’s equipment.”

“Working side by side with our Armenian partners in exercises such as Eagle Partner strengthens the trust and friendships between our nations and the men and women of our military services” the statement quoted Brigadier General Michael Venerdi, the Kansas adjutant general, as saying.

Eighty-five U.S. and 175 Armenian soldiers held similar drills at two training grounds outside Yerevan last September. Two U.S. generals watched one of those training sessions together with Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikian.

Russia as well as neighboring Iran criticized the 2023 drills. The Russian Foreign Ministry listed them among Yerevan’s “unfriendly” actions in a note of protest handed to the Armenian ambassador in Moscow.

Russian-Armenian relations have deteriorated further since then, with Armenia freezing its membership in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has repeatedly said that he will eventually pull his country out of the military alliance of ex-Soviet states. Pashinian’s administration has also signaled plans to seek Armenia’s membership in the European Union.

Pashinian’s political allies as well as Western-funded civic groups have welcomed the pro-Western shift in Armenia’s traditional geopolitical orientation. By contrast, Armenian opposition groups are seriously concerned about it. They say that the policy change is reckless because the United States and other Western powers will not give Armenia security guarantees or significant military aid.

Incidentally, the 2023 U.S.-Armenian exercise ended the day after Azerbaijan launched a large-scale military operation that forced Nagorno-Karabakh’s entire population to flee to Armenia and allowed Baku to regain control of the region.