Belarus Leader Seeks Russian Warplanes in Move to Bolster Power

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is seeking increased military support from Russia, in the wake of popular protests which rattled his longtime rule last year.

With Belarus threatened with both stagnating growth and accelerating inflation, Lukashenko met Russia’s Vladimir Putin last week to discuss economic and military ties.

Lukashenko told government officials in Minsk that he didn’t ask Putin for any extra loans and reiterated his commitment to Belarusian sovereignty, even while building an “impeccable” union with Russia. Ties with Europe and the U.S. have deteriorated since Lukashenko claimed a sixth term in an controversial election last year that has sparked ongoing protests.

The leader, Europe’s longest-serving president, may be ready to host new Russian fighter jets and pilots as long as Belarusians are also allowed to fly the aircraft, according to a partial transcript of his meeting with officials in Minsk on the presidential administration’s website. Lukashenko said he’d told Putin at their meeting to “give us those planes.”

Belarus’s military is so closely integrated with Russia that its forces may be called a district of Russia, Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service said in an annual report. Lukashenko has said there is no need for Russian to set up a military base in Belarus.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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