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  Tuesday, June 2, 2020
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The signing of a deal between Belarus and Russia
The signing of a deal between Belarus and Russia on an integrated regional air defense network is not a response to U.S. plans for a missile shield in Europe, the Belarus foreign minister said on Monday.

Moscow and Minsk signed on February 3 an agreement on the joint protection of the Russia-Belarus Union State's airspace and the creation of an integrated regional air defense network.

"The Russian-Belarusian agreement on the creation of an integrated regional air defense network is simply a legally binding act, which formalizes the situation that has existed for years, and it does not add anything new to it, either from a military or political standpoint," Sergei Martynov said in an interview on Belarus state television.

"Therefore, it is not by any means a response to the deployment of a U.S. missile shield on the territory of our neighbors," he said.

Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, commander of the Russian Air Force, previously said the integrated air-defense system would comprise five Air Force units, 10 anti-aircraft units, five technical service and support units and one electronic warfare (EW) unit.

The system will be placed under the command of a Russian or Belarusian Air Force or Air Defense Force senior commander, at the presidents' discretion.

Belarus has several Russian-made S-300 air defense battalions on combat duty and is negotiating the purchase of advanced S-400 systems from Russia, which will be made available by 2010.

Russia's defense minister said last year Moscow would continue to supply arms and military hardware to Belarus at subsidized rates and on a priority basis.

Military cooperation between the two former Soviet republics has gained momentum recently, and is widely considered in the West as being part of Russia's response to U.S. plans to deploy missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic.

New U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said at a security conference in Munich on Saturday that the United States would continue to work on its plans to deploy a missile shield in Central Europe, but would also consult Russia on the issue.


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