MOSCOW, Aug.28 (Reuters) – Russian anti-aircraft missile troops have arrived in Belarus on a mission to establish a training center in the town of Grodno, near the border with Poland and Lithuania, said on Saturday. the Belarusian Ministry of Defense.
This decision is likely to add to tensions between Belarus and its neighbors, Poland and Lithuania, countries it accuses of interfering in its affairs by welcoming opposition leaders in exile and refusing to recognize Alexander Lukashenko’s victory in last year’s elections.
Lukashenko’s critics say the vote was rigged, which he denies.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry said on social media that the decision to establish joint military centers of Russian and Belarusian troops was accepted during the March talks in Moscow by the armies of the two ex-Soviet states.
The ministry said it also expects Russian Su-30SM fighter jets to arrive in Belarus on September 3. The number of planes and the size of the troop deployment were not disclosed.
Russia has maintained close military and economic ties with Belarus while Western countries have ostracized the country since Lukashenko cracked down on mass protests that erupted after the contested presidential election.
Lukashenko said last month that Belarus would not hesitate to invite Russian troops if necessary, although he said they were not necessary. Read more
Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin Editing by Ros Russell
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