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 defense 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 defense of the air space of the Union State,” the Itar- Tass news agency quoted a ministry 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 that the move was in accordance with an agreement signed by the two countries on joint defense of the external border of the Union State.
Russian side’s confirmation came hours after Belarusian defense 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 defense 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.
Also on Thursday, Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) secretary general Nikolai Bordyuzha said “the CSTO has not remained indifferent to a group of NATO aviation being stationed near the Belarusian border.”
“We have spotted reconnaissance activity near that region. Nonetheless, we think that planning any measures today is premature,” he said.