Friday, March 31 2017 23:22 EEST
Russia
Russian ambassador names terms for establishing military base in Belarus
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Russia cannot place its military base in Belarusian territory because there is no intergovernmental agreement. Alexander Surikov, Russian ambassador to Belarus, made a statement to this effect at a press conference in Minsk, TASS news agency reports.

There is “not yet” any agreement, and no base can be deployed without one, the ambassador added. He noted that “there was never” any question of deploying a military base in Belarus.

When speaking about the upcoming joint military exercises of Russia and Belarus, “Zapad 2017”, which are planned for September, Surikov reiterated that they are “traditional”. “There shouldn’t be any hysterics in this regard,” he said.

In February, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said that the joint military exercises of Russia and Belarus show that Moscow is preparing for a war with the West. She pointed out that Lithuania is awaiting the exercises “with concern”. Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov called such statements “hysteria”, noting that joint exercises of Moscow and Minsk are held every two years, alternating between the territory of the one and the other.

In April 2016, Minsk said that the matter of a Russian airbase in Belarus is currently closed. However, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei admitted that the authorities could return to this matter “if the necessity arises”. In September 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to sign an agreement to create an airbase in Belarusian territory. In response to this, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said that he knows nothing about this, and has not discussed the matter of a base with Putin.

In October 2015, Andrei Ravkov, Belarusian Minister of Defense at the time, said that deploying a Russian airbase in Belarusian territory would be pointless at the time. He said it would be more reasonable to deploy “weapons of mass destruction” in the country.

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