A Russian army base in Belarus would worsen Belarus' relations with Lithuania and would undermine Belarus' goal to normalize its ties with NATO and the European Union, Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas says.
Juozas Olekas
© DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

His comments came in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's order for the country's Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries to launch negotiations with Belarus on an air base in this strategically-convenient country.

"With no doubt, a new Russian army base in the territory of Belarus would fuel tension in our region and would have negative impact on bilateral Lithuanian-Belarusian relations and would also undermine Belarus' goal to normalize its relations with the European Union and NATO," the minister told BNS by the Ministry of National Defence's Public Relations Division.

The minister noted that Belarus and Russia's military relations were "widely known" but expressed hope that Belarus' leadership "will not let itself dragged into further implementation of Russia's aggressive policy towards neighbour and the NATO alliance".

Olekas also drew attention to the fact that Minsk had so far not expressed its position on the matter.

Putin, who met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi last week, ordered the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs to hold negotiations with their Belarusian counterparts on the establishment of a Russian air base in Belarus. Lukashenko, however, has not commented on Putin's initiative yet.

Russia now has radio locators and navy communication objects in Belarus which neighbours NATO members Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, as well as Ukraine, but the planned base would be the first object of that kind.

BNS
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