Russian 102nd Military Base

102nd Military Base
Gyumri, Armenia

Entrance to the Russian 102nd Military Base
Coordinates 40°47′24.07″N 43°49′32.40″E / 40.7900194°N 43.8256667°E / 40.7900194; 43.8256667Coordinates: 40°47′24.07″N 43°49′32.40″E / 40.7900194°N 43.8256667°E / 40.7900194; 43.8256667
Type Military Base, former division
Site information
Controlled by Russian Federation
Site history
Built 1941
In use 1940s–present
Garrison information
Colonel Andrey Ruzinsky
Garrison 3,000 troops[1]

The Russian 102nd Military Base (Armenian: ռուսական 102-րդ ռազմակայան;[2] Russian: 102-я российская военная база), officially known as the 102nd Military Base of the Group of Russian Forces in Transcaucasia (Russian: 102-я военная база Группы российских войск в Закавказье)[3] is a Russian military base in Gyumri, Armenia, part of the Transcaucasian Group of Forces. It was formerly the base of the 127th Motor Rifle Division of the Soviet Seventh Guards Army. The base is about 120 kilometers (75 mi) north of the Armenian capital, Yerevan.


The 102nd Military Base traces its history to the 261st Rifle Division of the Soviet Union's Red Army. The 261st Rifle Division was originally formed in 1941.[4] It was probably activated in the Odessa Military District in July–August 1941.[5] It was assigned to the 12th Army of the North Caucasus Front later in 1941 and remained with that Army up to at least August 1942 but then was assigned to the Transcaucasian Front's Black Sea Group of Forces. It then spent much of the later part of World War II, from January 1, 1943,[6] onwards with the small 45th Army of the Transcaucasian Front which was guarding the USSR's borders with Turkey.[7] After the war ended, the 261st Rifle Division was briefly designated the 37th Rifle Division but then became the 127th Motor Rifle Division in 1957, part of the 7th Guards Army.[8]

In April 1990, the division's 120th Guards Tank Regiment was divided into the 116th Separate Guards Tank Battalion and the 1360th Motor Rifle Regiment. On 21 August 1992, it became the 102nd Military Base.[8]


Map of Gyumri and its vicinity. The base is shown in pink. The Gyumri city quarter inhabited by Russian servicemen, known as "Vosmoy Gorodok" (8-й городок) is immediately north of the base (shown in black)
The main gate

By the mid-late 1990s the composition of the 127th Motor Rifle Division had changed, following the departure of the majority of the Soviet forces from Armenia. It consisted of the 123rd, 124th, and 128th Motor Rifle Regiments, the 992nd Artillery Regiment, and the 116th Independent Tank Battalion. The 123rd Motor Rifle Regiment was formed from the former 164th Motor Rifle Division, also stationed in Armenia.

There are 3,000 Russian soldiers officially reported to be stationed at the 102nd Military Base located in Gyumri. In early 2005, the 102nd Military Base had 74 tanks, 17 infantry fighting vehicles, 148 armored personnel carriers, 84 artillery pieces, 18 MiG-29 fighters and several batteries of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. A great deal of military hardware has been moved to the 102nd Base from the Russian 12th Military Base in Batumi and the Russian 62nd Military Base in Akhalkalaki, Georgia[9] which includes 35 tanks and armored vehicles and 370 pieces of military hardware. The military base is part of a joint air defense system of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which was deployed in Armenia in 1995. Furthermore, the Armenian Air Force relies partially upon the Russian MiG-29s located at the military base, for the defense of Armenia's airspace.

The Russian military base was deployed on the territory of Armenia as early as 1996 (before that, the installation was still known as the 127th MRD of the Soviet Ground Forces). The bilateral treaty states that the Russian military will be in the base for 25 years, but Armenian authorities have said that if needed this time-frame can be reviewed, and exclusively in the direction of prolongation. Although Russia does not pay the Armenian government for the military base stationed in Gyumri, the Armenian side takes care of all public utilities water, electricity, etc.[10]

In 1997, Armenia and Russia signed a far-reaching friendship treaty, which calls for mutual assistance in the event of a military threat to either party and allows Russian border guards to patrol Armenia’s frontiers with Turkey and Iran.

In August 2003 the base's commanding officer, General Major Alexander Titov, was dismissed for reportedly not maintaining military discipline and allowing corruption and the sale of state equipment.[11] In early 2009, the motorized arm of the base was divided two separate motor rifle brigades.

In 2013, the chief commander of 102nd military base Andrey Ruzinsky said in an interview that "If Azerbaijan decides to restore jurisdiction over Nagorno-Karabakh by force the [Russian] military base may join in the armed conflict in accordance with the Russian Federation’s obligations within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)."[12]

Supply to the base

A special five-year agreement concluded with Georgia on March 31, 2006 allowed Russia access to the 102nd Military Base through Georgia's land and airspace. The agreement prohibited Russia from handing over any armament transited through Georgian territory to a third country and from transiting biological, nuclear or chemical substances, as well as weapon of mass destruction or their components. It further stipulated that the amount of military cargo should have been agreed between Russia and Georgia one year in advance. Furthermore, Georgia could refuse the transit if it posed a threat to its national security or if the final destination of the transited military cargo was a location within a conflict zone or a warring state. In December 2006, Russia accused Georgia of "sabotaging" the cargoes destined for the 102nd Military Base.[13]

The transit of Russian military personnel and cargo was suspended by the government of Georgia in the aftermath of the 2008 war with Russia. Upon expiration of its five-year term, on April 19, 2011, the Parliament of Georgia annulled the 2006 agreement with Russia.[14][15]


The question about the presence of the Russian military base in Armenia has been raised in the European Commission. Some argue that the presence of the base serves an obstacle to Western investment and reforms and that the Armenian public and political system that is too closely linked with the Russian leadership.[16] However, most analysts and the Armenian government consider Russia the guarantor of Armenia's territorial integrity since it forms one triad of Armenia's national security framework.


In 1999, two drunken soldiers, Denis Popov and Alexander Kamenev, armed with AK-74 rifles, went into the town and started a gunfight, killing 2 men, Vaghinak Simonyan and David Soghomonyan, and injuring 14. The two men were tried in Armenia, where Popov was sentenced to 14 years in prison and Kamenev to 15. Whether or not the two served their entire terms in Armenia is unclear and little is known about this court’s investigation and punishment.[17][18] In an interview published on January 16 with, Popov’s lawyer, Tamara Yailoian, claimed that her former client had been transferred to Russia “after two to three years,” and, “we later learned, set free.”[18]

Two children were killed by a mine on the training field in the vicinity of the military base in 2013. The field was not fenced or given properly warning, but nonetheless the command of the military based never punished anyone and also ignored the official complaints of the locals.

In January 2015 an Armenian family of seven was massacred in their house at night by Russian deserter Valery Permyakov from the military base. He was soon apprehended, and anti-government and anti-Russian rallies ensued in Yerevan and Gyumri.[17]

A June 2015 poll in Armenia found that 55% of respondents "find the presence of any other state’s or structure’s military bases in Armenia acceptable", mostly citing the need of protection against Turkey (24%) and Azerbaijan (16%).[19][20]

Order of Battle, 127th MRD, 1989-90

This listing is taken from Lenskii & Tsybin's The Soviet Ground Forces in the last years of the USSR (St Petersburg, 2001).[21] The city of Gyumri was known as Leninakan up to 1990.

On 19 November 1990 the 127th MRD had the following equipment:

See also


  1. "Russia to beef up military presence in former Soviet space". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  2. or ռուսական 102-րդ ռազմաբազա
  3. "102-я военная база Группы российских войск в Закавказье". (in Russian). Kavkazskiy Uzel. 3 December 2013.
  4. "261-я стрелковая дивизия". Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  5. "QIP.RU". Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  6. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, January 1, 1943 (Russian)
  7. Keith E. Bonn (ed.), Slaughterhouse: The Handbook of the Eastern Front, Aberjona Press, 2005, p.324
  8. 1 2 Michael Holm, 127th Motor Rifle Division, 2015.
  9. "Armenia and Azerbaijan Differ Over Russian Base Pull-Out". Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  10. "Hetq - News, Articles, Investigations". 15 April 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  11., accessed July 2009.
  12. "Russian Officer: We Would Intervene In Karabakh Against Azerbaijan". Eurasianet. November 1, 2013.
  13. Moscow Accuses Georgia of Violating Military Transit Treaty. Civil Georgia. December 10, 2006
  14. Georgia Annuls Military Transit Treaty with Russia. Civil Georgia. April 19, 2011
  15. Georgia Annuls Russian Military Transit Agreement. Defense News. April 19, 2011
  16. "Russian military base in Armenia: A security guarantee or limitation of independence?" Hyemedia. April 13, 2011.
  17. 1 2 "Russian Soldier Shoots Sleeping Family in their own House in Gyumri". 14 January 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  18. 1 2 "Armenia: Will Murders Bring Change to Ties with Russia?". 16 January 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  19. Kucera, Joshua (10 June 2015). "Armenians Hold Mixed Views Of Russian Base: Opinion Poll". Open Society Institute.
  20. Bella. "National Security and Foreign Military Bases in Armenia: Public Discussion and Opinion Poll Report - The Civilitas Foundation". Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  21. А.Г.Ленского и М.М.Цыбина „Советские сухопутные войска в последний год существования СССР” (Санкт-Петербург, 2001)
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