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Russia to set up airbase in Belarus


14:32, April 24, 2013

MINSK, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Russia is expected to open an airbase in Belarus in 2015, with the first wing of fighters to be stationed there in 2013.

Russia has started to work on a plan to deploy "a Russian airbase with fighter jets and hope to station an air regiment there in 2015," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said when he met with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on Tuesday.

"We will open an air commandant's office and bring the first duty wing of fighters in 2013," Shoigu added.

The minister also said that Moscow will ship four more batteries of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Minsk in 2013 under an agreement with Belarus.

Currently the Russian and Belarussian military are preparing the joint military exercises, which are coded West-2013 and scheduled for September in Belarus.

"Hopefully, it will check our readiness for the joint response to modern challenges and show what else must be done to ensure security of our countries," Shoigu said.

Lukashenko stressed the Belarussian-Russian West 2013 exercises are of an exclusively defensive nature and do not target any third countries.

"I cannot understand why the West is so cautious about our upcoming exercises. This is not our first drill and it is not even a defense practice, we are simply adapting ourselves to each other and are checking the system that was adjusted a long time ago," he said.

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