Russia and Belarus plan to establish a combined air-defense system in an effort to better secure their airspace, the Associated Press reported yesterday (see GSN, Feb. 21, 2008).
The system would include 10 air-defense missile units and five air force units, media reports quoted Russian air force chief Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin as saying.
It remained uncertain, though, whether the forces would provide defensive or offensive capabilities against a planned European missile shield (see GSN, Jan. 30).
The former Soviet states spent years in negotiations as Belarus pushed for more Russian assistance and other favorable terms, according to AFP. Belarusan President Alexander Lukashenko called for Russia to sell his country armaments for subsidized costs while purchasing Belarusan weaponry for itself, Kommersant reported.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the agreement he reached with Lukashenko "will significantly increase the defense capability of Russia and Belarus" (Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press/Google News, Feb. 3).