Russia to put more aircraft on duty in Belarus – another issue for concern?

Russia intends to put more aircraft and helicopters on duty in Belarus, Alexander Surikov, Ambassador of Russia to Belarus, said at a press conference in Minsk on Wednesday.

The diplomat reminded that Russian jet fighters have been on duty in Belarus since December 2013.

“Plans have been made to increase the amount of hardware on duty up to 12 combat aircraft and two trainer aircraft. The first wing of four military helicopters Mi-8 will be deployed to bolster the on-duty forces in the Belarusian airspace. The Belarusian army will also get four air defense missile systems S-300,” said Alexander Surikov.

According to the Ambassador, Belarus and Russia cooperate in the military sphere and the military technology sphere rather successfully. “As many as 99 Belarusian enterprises and 940 Russian enterprises use manufacturing cooperation schemes to make end products. The share of Belarusian products in the Russian defense order is already at 15%. And the Russian defense order is a colossal amount of money,” state-owned news agenc BelTA quotes Alexander Surikov as saying.

The first four Russian planes appeared in Baranavichy airfield in December, 2013. Russia decided earlier this year to send 24 Su-27SM3 fighter jets to its airbase in Belarus’s Baranavichy in order to ‘provide inviolability of the airspace of the Union State of Russia and Belarus’.

In addition, in 2016  Russia is due to establish an airbase in the Belarusian town of Babruysk and deploy 24 Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets there. Russian aircraft will be stationed at a military airfield, which is to be reconstructed.

These jets were to have been deployed in Hrodna or Brest region. But Poland and the USA signed an agreement on introducing precision-guided missiles with a range of up to 400 km into service with the Polish Air Force. Such missiles may destroy Russian troops in Lida or Baranavichi, but they will not be able to reach Babruysk.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday’s session of the Security Council Aliaksandr Lukashenka admitted that Russia’s recent actions ‘cannot but raise concern’ and stressed that Belarus should ‘develop and strengthen its defense capacities’.

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