Armenia is set to host a joint military exercise with the United States next week, a development that Russia said was cause for concern.

The Armenian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday the purpose of the September 11-20 Eagle Partner 2023 drills was to prepare its forces to take part in international peacekeeping missions.

“Within the framework of preparation for peacekeeping missions, units preparing for international peacekeeping operations frequently participate in similar joint exercises and trainings in partner countries,” the ministry said in a statement.

A US military spokesperson said 85 American soldiers and 175 Armenians would take part. He said the Americans – including members of the Kansas National Guard which has a 20-year-old training partnership with Armenia – would be armed with rifles and would not be using heavy weaponry.