Russia and Armenia have signed a deal which will keep Russian troops in the former Soviet republic for years to come.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian sealed the agreement in the Armenian capital Yerevan.
Moscow is to extend its lease on a military base in Armenia from 2020 to 2044 while reinforcing the garrison of 3,000 Russian troops stationed there to guarantee Armenia’s security.
The pact is likely to set alarm bells ringing in neighbouring Azerbaijan which is locked in a conflict with Yerevan over the breakaway Nagorny Karabakh region.
Georgia – which fought a brief war with Russia two years ago – is equally unlikey to welcome the arrangement which bolsters Moscow’s military clout in the South Caucasus.