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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs