After talks with President Vladimir Putin, Alexander Lukashenko announced that Belarus had received S-400 and Iskander missile systems from Russia. As Reuters points out, none of the accredited journalists in Minsk have asked the leaders about the war in Ukraine.
Lukashenko said at a joint press conference with Putin after the talks that the S-400 and Iskander systems began “combat duty” on Monday. He said Belarus had modified its military aircraft to carry “special weapons and special missiles”.
After talks in the Belarusian capital, Putin said Russia and Belarus wanted to continue the practice of joint military maneuvers and “jointly make decisions to ensure the security of both countries.” Russia and Belarus should develop military cooperation in the field of arms production.
Economy and close integration
According to Putin, an agreement was reached on key issues of energy cooperation, including “very sensitive ones”. Lukashenko announced that a “stable and favorable gas price” had been established.
Putin described the talks with Lukashenko as “results galore”. The Belarusian politician argued that “the people will appreciate the decisions made today.”
Representatives of the governments of the two countries, defense ministers and others participated in the talks between the representatives.
Before the talks, Lukashenko insisted that the primary focus was on the economy and closer integration within the federal state.
After a gap of three years
According to Reuters, no accredited journalists asked Putin and Lukashenko on Monday War in Ukraine. Media in Kiev noted that Putin and Lukashenka were seen “talking about Ukraine”.
Putin’s visit to Minsk came after a gap of more than three years. On December 3, the Russian Defense Minister made an unannounced visit to the Belarusian capital Sergei Shoigu. The defense ministers signed a bilateral military agreement, the contents of which were not disclosed.
Although Belarusian forces did not support the Russian army in its invasion of Ukraine, Lukashenko made the state’s territory available to the Kremlin’s needs.
In late February, Russian troops launched an offensive from Belarus into northern Ukraine, including the Kiev region. Russian units fired rockets from Belarus at Ukrainian cities, including civilian objects.
A joint body of troops
In early October, Lukashenko announced the creation of a regional group of troops with Russia in Belarus. Russian troops are on the territory of this country with weapons and other military equipment, and newly mobilized reservists are being trained.
Putin’s visit to Minsk is aimed at drawing the Belarusian army further into the war against Ukraine, including fighting on the ground, Ukrainian Joint Forces Commander General Serhii Nayev assessed on Sunday.
According to the Ukrainian side, “the subject of this meeting is further aggression against Ukraine and wider involvement of the Belarusian Armed Forces in operations against Ukraine, in our opinion – including ground operations.”
“The security of our border with both Russia and Belarus is a constant priority. We are preparing for all possible security scenarios. No matter who and what Minsk insists on – it will end like all other sick ideas in a war against Ukraine. And Ukrainians.” – President of Ukraine said on Sunday evening Volodymyr Zelensky.
Evaluation of the attack with the participation of Belarusian troops
According to the US think tank Institute of War Studies (ISW), “the ability of the Russian military, even reinforced by elements of the Belarusian forces, to prepare and conduct an effective offensive using mechanized forces in Ukraine is questionable.”
In its latest report, the analytical center noted that Russian military officials are conducting a campaign to demonstrate their effectiveness and initiative in the face of previous failures, and – perhaps – prepare the ground for a new offensive.
According to the Institute of Internal Affairs, Putin’s visit to Belarus should play a similar role. “This is probably part of an attempt to demonstrate initiative and prepare information for a new phase of the war,” the experts wrote.
Main photo source: EPA/Konstantin Zavrajin/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool
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