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Russia: Moscow Starts Delivery Of S-300 Missiles To Armenia

Moscow, 18 February (RFE/RL) - Russian Air Force commander Anatoly Kornukov said today that Russia has begun delivering the components of an S-300 Zenith air defense system to its Gyumri military base in Armenia. ITAR-TASS and Armenian news agencies reported that Kornukov made the announcement as he and Armenian Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisian attended a ceremony commemorating the first test flights of Russian MiG-29 aircraft deployed in Armenia last December.

Kornukov is the first Russian official to confirm that S-300s are being deployed in Armenia. The S-300 is known for its precision and long-distance firepower.

Kornukov said that Russia is prepared to deploy the S-300 Zenith missile system in the territories of all willing members of the Commonwealth of Independent States collective defense treaty. Also today, Cyprus and Russia finalized details of the installation on Crete of Russian missiles bought by Cyprus.

The missiles were originally set to be deployed on Cyprus but the site was moved to Crete after Turkey threatened military action. Turkey argued that the Cyprus deployment posed a threat to its borders.

Earlier this month, Cyprus gave Greece operational control over the anti-aircraft missiles.

(Emil Danielyan in Yerevan contributed to this report)