MINSK, June 6 (Itar-Tass) - A Russian military delegation led by Air Force Commander-in-Chief Viktor Bondarev arrives on Thursday in Belarus to choose the site for a new Russian airbase.
“A group of observers led by the Air Force commander-in-chief will arrive in Belarus tomorrow. I think that in the next two or three weeks they will be selecting an airfield for deploying a Russian aviation base and all other equipment in accordance with agreements reached at our previous meeting,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said after the 64th meeting of the Council of Defense Ministers of the CIS member states on Wednesday.
He said an aviation command post will be set up there within this year, and first planes will arrive in Belarus shortly as a component part of a joint Belarussian-Russian airbase. "It is necessary to create such a unit here that would render assistance to and support the development of aviation and air forces of the Defense Ministry of the Republic of Belarus,” Shoigu emphasized.
During a visit to Minsk in April, the Russian defense minister said at a meeting with President Alexander Lukashenko that the sides would look into a plan to create in Belarus “a Russian airbase with fighter jets”.
Commenting on Shoigu’s words, the Belarussian leader told reporters that it was premature at the moment to speak about the deployment of a Russian airbase on the Belarussian territory, saying the supply of state-of-the-art combat planes to the Belarusian armed forces was meant. He noted that it was not yet clear in which form this would be done.
Meanwhile, Russian diplomats have said that Russia and Belarus are discussing possibilities for strengthening defenses of the Union State, including supplies of Russian aircraft to Belarus or the setting up of an airbase on the Belarussian territory.
According to experts, this airbase may be located in Baranovichi or in Bereza (Brest region). The emergence of an airbase on the Belarussian territory will not violate the country’s constitution, as it is not written in it that Belarus is a neutral state, experts mark.