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MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. Russia plans to increase the number of aircraft and helicopters at the airbase in Belarus in an effort to strengthen joint air space, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday.
Shoigu held talks with his Belarusian counterpart, Major General Andrey Ravkov as part of meetings of statutory bodies of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russia-led military alliance of former Soviet states.
“I am ready to discuss today plans to continue our practical cooperation,” Shoigu said. “This concerns S-300 systems, the establishment and deployment of the airbase in Belarus with the increase in the number of aircraft and helicopters,” he said.
Speaking on the level of military cooperation between Russia and Belarus in the air defense sphere, Shoigu said “today we are ahead of everyone else on the post-Soviet space.”
Joint military drills are another important area of bilateral cooperation, Shoigu said. “They have become regular and full-scale,” he said, adding that next year more exercises are planned.
The drills codenamed Union Shield-2015, due to be conducted on the Russian territory, are expected to become a major event of joint training of the Armed Forces of Russia and Belarus next year.
The Belarusian defense minister thanked Shoigu for the aid provided by Russia. Belarus will have all four S-300 air defense systems supplied by Russia on combat duty by October 2015.
Ravkov congratulated Russia on the first launch of a heavy-class rocket Angara-A5 on Tuesday, saying this is a “serious step towards the space exploration” and Russia's might in the space sphere is unquestionable.