Russia flies warplanes to Belarus for joint combat duty

Moscow, March 14: Moscow has deployed six SU-27 fighters and three military transport jets to Belarus, in an apparent reaction to growing NATO activity near the Belarusian border, the Russian defence ministry said Thursday.

“The air crews of the Russian jets will be on combat duty with their Belarusian colleagues for purposes of air reconnaissance and ensuring defence of the air space of the Union State,” Xinhua quoted a ministry’s spokesman as saying.

A group of military-technical personnel of the Russian Western Military District were on board to the Bobruisk aerodrome in the Mogilyov region of Belarus, he said, adding the move was in accordance with an agreement signed by the two countries on joint defence of the external border of the Union State.

Russian side’s confirmation came hours after Belarusian defence ministry released a statement on the deployment.

“In the event of further accumulation of troops formations in the states adjoining Belarus, it will take adequate measures of response on its territory,” the Belarusian defence ministry said.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko suggested Wednesday that Russia deploy up to 15 planes in his country in response to the growing NATO activity near the Belarusian border.

Meanwhile, Lukashenko on Thursday declined that he was asking for military assistance from Russia.

“If NATO or someone is making any movements over there in Poland, we have a plan for such a contingency, and we would have to implement it … I suggested to Russia: let’s implement it,” the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

IANS