Belarus is “categorically opposed” to the deployment of a Russian aerospace base in its territory, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday, commenting on a possible response to NATO’s increased presence in Poland.
According to Lukashenko, a Russian military base would create risks for Belarus, which is “independently capable” of carrying out the defensive functions prescribed in the Collective Security Treaty with Russia.
A Russian base would put Minsk “under a possible aggressor”, Lukashenko emphasized: “One or two missiles… the take-off and landing strip blows up, and not a single missile will take off”.
“At present, I don’t even see any need to bring another country into Belarus’s territory, not even Russia, in order to carry out our functions according to the treaty with Russia, which is why we are categorically opposed to the deployment of an aerospace base in particular,” the Belarusian president said.
“The reason we are not deploying this base here is not because we want to demonstrate that we are sovereign and independent. We are not deploying it because it is not needed here,” TASS cites Lukashenko as saying.
According to him, Russian planes can fly to Belarus in 3-5 minutes, during which time the Belarusian Armed Forces, which have already been reformed four times, “are in a position to provide security and carry out their functions better than any other country, including the Russian Federation”.
Minsk may, however, require assistance in the form of new missile technologies, Lukashenko admitted: “If NATO continues to intimidate us, with the deployment of the Fort Trump base in Poland or other advancements, we will need more effective weaponry, especially missile weaponry,” he said.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that his government has “no comment” on Lukashenko’s statement. He clarified that he does not know the context of the statement, and does not wish to make wild guesses about it.
A US tank brigade with around 3,500 personnel is presently deployed in Poland on a rotation basis. The country is also host to a multinational NATO battalion numbering about 1,000. By 2020, Poland will also have an American anti-missile defense base in Redzikowo.