Thursday, 27 June 2013

Russia to Open Airbase in Belarus Within Months

Russia is opening an airbase in northwestern Belarus, near the Polish and Lithuanian borders, within just a few months, a Russian Air Force general said Wednesday. 

The airbase, modern Russia’s first on Belarusian soil, will consolidate bilateral defense collaboration as part of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, Russian Air Force chief Lieutenant General Viktor Bondarev told reporters.

Located in Lida, a city of nearly 100,000, the base will be an important element in the “strategic defense of the Union State,” the two-star general said, adding that Russian Su-27SM3 fighter jets would be stationed there.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in May that the base was not being set up in response to deployment of a US missile shield in Europe that has been strongly opposed by Russia.

However, Moscow has also taken issue with NATO jets flying combat air patrols close to Russian airspace. Belarus borders NATO nations Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

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