News / Europe

Russia Plans to Deploy Fighter Jets, Base in Belarus

Russian Air Force Su-27 Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights) jet fighters at air show outside Moscow (2011 photo)
Russian Air Force Su-27 Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights) jet fighters at air show outside Moscow (2011 photo)
Reuters
Russia plans to deploy fighter jets in Belarus this year and eventually establish an air base in the former Soviet republic, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.
       
The moves would increase Russia's military presence in Belarus, viewed by Moscow as a buffer between Russia and NATO, and could unnerve neighbouring members of the Western alliance.
       
Russia agreed in 2009 to set up a joint air defense system with Belarus and talks were held before then on establishing an air base there, but few concrete steps have been taken.
       
"We have begun considering the plan to create a Russian air base with fighter jets here,'' Shoigu said at a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in the capital, Minsk.
       
"We hope that in 2015 there will be a regiment of warplanes [in Belarus] which will serve to defend our borders,'' Shoigu said in a portion of the meeting shown on Russian state television.
       
Shoigu said the plan is for the first fighter jets to arrive in Belarus this year. Russian aviation regiments normally consist of roughly 60 warplanes.
       
While Russian and NATO officials say armed conflict between the former Cold War adversaries is all but unthinkable, relations are strained and former Soviet satellites now in the Western alliance are particularly wary of the Russian military.
       
An anti-missile shield the United States is deploying in Europe together with NATO nations is a chief source of tension.
       
Shoigu's remarks coincided with a meeting in Brussels at which Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told NATO that Moscow still wants guarantees the system would not be used against Russia, despite a recent decision to scale it back.
       
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Moscow defence think-tank CAST, said the deployment of fighters in Belarus would do little to increase security and would be seen by Russia's Western neighbors "as a display of hostility''.
       
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been seeking to strengthen Moscow's military and economic ties with other former Soviet republics since he came to power in 2000.
       
Russia has an air base in Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia, and is the most powerful nation in a security alliance of ex-Soviet states, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
       
Russia uses a Soviet-era early-warning radar station in Belarus and has supplied it with weapons including air defense missile batteries.
       
Lukashenko told Shoigu that the West "should understand that if they look at us will ill intentions, we will react'', according to Belarusian state news agency Belta.
       
But he made no specific public comment on Russia's plans for the deployment of fighters or a base, and the Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
       
Lukashenko's suppression of dissent has made him a pariah in the West but he has also been wary of giving Moscow too much influence on the nation of 10 million.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid