Russia to send arms, ‘maybe even S-400s’, to Belarus: Lukashenko
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was quoted by the Belta state news agency on Wednesday as saying that Russia will soon deliver a big military hardware consignment to Belarus, including aircraft, helicopters, and defence systems.
The delivery is likely to be regarded as yet another sign of Moscow’s unwavering support for Lukashenko, who last year dealt with the largest pro protests in his country’s history by directing a violent crackdown that the West condemned.
Russian and Belarusian forces are set to hold large joint military exercises later this month. The Zapad-2021 drills will last from September 10 until 16.
Russia sees its Belarusian ally as a security buffer on its western flank against the NATO military alliance and the European Union.
“Russia will supply us with dozens of planes, dozens of helicopters, the most important air defence weapons in the near future – I won’t tell how much money or what -,” Lukashenko was quoted as saying.
“Maybe even S-400s” (surface-to-air missiles). As I’ve previously stated, we are in dire need of them,” he said.
“In a word, the most modern equipment. We will equip ourselves. If we see during the exercise (Zapad-2021) that we need something else, then we will buy it from the Russian Federation and commission it,” he added.
Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to hold talks in Russia on the eve of the military exercise, on September 9.
Lukashenko expressed interest in the S-400 system during a record eight-hour meeting with the public and journalists on August 9, entitled “The Big Conversation with the President,” saying Minsk has contacted Russian President Vladimir Putin for a shipment “at a special price, on credit.”
Russia and Belarus are formally a “union state,” have been discussing how to further integrate their countries for years.
The negotiations have long spurred fears among the beleaguered Belarusian opposition that Lukashenko might trade chunks of sovereignty in return for even more political backing from the Kremlin.
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