Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov said yesterday that his nation and Russia were not responding to U.S. plans for missile defense sites in Europe by agreeing to collaborate on a bilateral air defense system, RIA Novosti reported (see GSN, Feb. 4).
The system, under an agreement signed this month, is set to involve five air force units, 10 antiaircraft units, five technical and support units and a single electronic warfare unit.
"The Russian-Belarusian agreement on the creation of an integrated regional air defense network is simply a legally binding act, which formalizes the situation that has existed for years, and it does not add anything new to it, either from a military or political standpoint," Martynov told Belarus state television.
"Therefore, it is not by any means a response to the deployment of a U.S. missile shield on the territory of our neighbors," he said.
Moscow has vehemently opposed Bush administration plan to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic (see GSN, Feb. 9). U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden said last weekend that the Obama administration would consult with Russia if it moves ahead with the project (RIA Novosti, Feb. 9).