Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Russia to deploy fighter jets in Belarus within days

Vyachaslaw BUDKEVICH, Naviny.by

Russia plans to deploy a duty flight of Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighter jets in Baranavichy, Brest region, within the next few days, BelaPAN has learned.

The four warplanes will make a landing at the airfield of the 61st Fighter Base. Russian Air Force maintenance personnel will also be deployed at the air base. The exact date of the deployment depends on, among other, weather conditions, sources told BelaPAN. While visiting Minsk in late April, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia planned to deploy a fighter regiment in Belarus by 2015. According to him, an "air force commandant’s office" will be established and the "first duty flight of combat fighters" will be deployed in Belarus before the end of 2013.

The Russian Air Force commander, Viktor Bondarev, said on June 26 that the Russian air base would be located in Lida, Hrodna region, and begin operation later in the year.

"The establishment of a Russian air base in Belarus is a result of the implementation of an interstate agreement on the strengthening of the military component of the Union State," General Lieutenant Bondarev said. "As a Union State member, Russia must create and establish its air base there."

The air base’s infrastructure will be created by Belarus and Russia will provide assistance, the general said. "The air base will become an important element of the first strategic defense echelon of the Union State, protecting Belarusian airspace," he noted, adding that there would be no need to build any facilities at the Lida airfield because "all necessary things are in place."

Mr. Shoigu said in late October that the countries were finishing work on a draft agreement on the establishment of a Russian air base in the territory of Belarus.