Updated at 20:11,29-10-2020

It is not clear why Russia needs airbase in Belarus, UK ambassador says

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

It is not clear why Russia needs an airbase in Belarus, UK Ambassador Bruce Bucknell, whose diplomatic term expires on January 15, said in an interview with BelaPAN.

“Russia has a military base in Kaliningrad, which is situated closer to Warsaw than, let’s say, Babruysk,” he said. “I don’t know whether Russia really needs to have this base in Belarus and why this should be a priority. Russia has many priorities, perhaps, too many. Belarus is Russia’s military ally anyway.”

Mr. Bucknell pointed out that Russian military bases had played an active role in the annexation of Crimea and military action in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. “Russian President Vladimir Putin himself admitted this,” he said. “To be honest, it’s not very pleasant to be an ally of a country that treats others like Russia.”

Mr. Bucknell described Russia’s self-image as “post-imperial.” “We all like to view ourselves as a great and important nation, so Russia’s stance is understandable,” he said. “But no one has the right to tell other nations to do their bidding. Relations should be mutually beneficial, but Russia appears to want all benefits for itself. And now its relations with a very large number of countries are very poor. And this is a problem. Why did the Baltic countries decide to join NATO, for example? Because many of them didn’t feel safe next to Russia.”