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BMD Watch: Russia extends ABMs to Belarus

Russia continues to favor Belarus in providing its most advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic missile defense systems to it. The report noted that Belarus already operates "several Russian-made S-300 air defense divisions on combat duty and is negotiating the purchase of advanced S-400 systems from Russia, which will be made available by 2010."
by Martin Sieff
Washington (UPI) Oct 16, 2008
Russia is going to extend its anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense system to integrate it with that of the neighboring former Soviet republic of Belarus. The two countries will formally seal their new air defense treaty on Nov. 2, RIA Novosti reported Oct. 8.

In many respects, the agreement comes as no surprise. Hard-line Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been a loyal, tough ally of Russia under President Vladimir Putin, and nothing has changed since Dmitry Medvedev succeeded Putin as president earlier this year.

However, the new treaty is still notable as part of Russia's far-ranging plans to put its entire armed forces on a much more formidable footing, capable of fighting and winning a war against NATO in Europe.

Commentators in the Moscow media this month have openly hailed the success of the enormous, monthlong Stabilnost-(Stability)-2008 armed forces exercises as showing Russia was once again able to confront NATO in strategic and conventional military terms.

The new Russian-Belarusian air defense cooperation treaty will be signed at the next meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Moscow on Nov. 2, of the Supreme State Council of the Russia-Belarus Union State, RIA Novosti said.

Pavel Borodin, state secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union State organization, told reporters in Moscow Oct. 8 he was confident the new treaty would be signed Nov. 2, saying, "I have no doubt of that."

"Militarily speaking, it is virtually a shield against NATO," Borodin said.

The RIA Novosti report also said military ties between Russia and Belarus were intensifying in reaction to the Bush administration's continued determination to deploy Ground-based Mid-course Interceptors -- GBIs -- in Poland to the west of Belarus.

The 10 GBIs are meant to defend the United States and Western Europe against the eventual threat of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles that Iran might use to threaten Western nations. However, Russian leaders are unanimous and outspoken in their claims that the GBIs are really meant to be deployed against them.

Belarus participated fully in the Stabilnost-2008 exercise that has just concluded. RIA Novosti cited Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as stating that plans were already under way to follow that up with a joint strategic command-and-staff exercise called Zapad-2009 next year.

"The drills should become another practical step in training our armed forces and contribute to the creation of an actual security system for the Union state," he said.

This month, Belarus is also working with Russia to carry out the comprehensive Osen-2008 operational exercise within the framework of the joint strategic command-and-staff exercise Stabilnost-2008, RIA Novosti said.

Russia continues to favor Belarus in providing its most advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic missile defense systems to it. The report noted that Belarus already operates "several Russian-made S-300 air defense divisions on combat duty and is negotiating the purchase of advanced S-400 systems from Russia, which will be made available by 2010."

In 2007 Russia pledged to go on delivering necessary weapons systems to Belarus "at subsidized rates and on a priority basis," RIA Novosti said.

Greece wants to buy 420 Russian fighting vehicles
Russia is close to closing an export deal with Greece, a member nation of NATO and the European Union, to supply 420 of its BMP-3M infantry fighting vehicles, an official of the Rosoboronexport weapons export state monopoly said Oct. 6.

The Rosoboronexport official announced that early this year the Greek Defense Ministry had presented its request to purchase the infantry fighting vehicles, RIA Novosti reported.

"Preparations for signing a corresponding intergovernmental agreement and contract are currently under way," he said, according to the report.

The Rosoboronexport official also announced that Russia was putting the BMP-3M on display at the Defendory International 2008 arms show that was held in Athens Oct. 7 to 11.

RIA Novosti described the BMP-3M as "one of the most heavily armed infantry fighting vehicles in service." The report noted that the combat vehicle already had been sold to more than 10 countries. It said the United Arab Emirates already operated 600 of them.

Winning the Greek order would be a particularly telling political victory for Russia: It would send the signal that even members of the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization had to turn to the Kremlin to get weapons systems that were either superior to, or were sold at vastly cheaper prices, than competing U.S. systems.

Greece, although a NATO member for more than half a century, traditionally always has been sympathetic to fellow Orthodox Christian Russia. Those ties virtually vanished during the 74-year existence of the atheist Soviet Union. But since the collapse of communism, Russian leaders have sought to revive them.

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