Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a comment on Minsk’s reluctance to set up a Russian military airbase in Belarus.
In an interview to Kommersant, Lavrov described the refusal by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko to accommodate a Russian airbase as an unpleasant episode.
It is an unpleasant episode indeed,” he said.
However, the foreign minister noted that Belarus and Russia have a special relationship, particularly when it comes to coordinating foreign policies.
“It is the content that matters, not the form. Belarus President Lukashenko has repeatedly said, including a question on the base, that Belarus is a 100% Russia’s ally.
And that the Belarusian army should be viewed as forces that protect our common interests and our common territory,” the Russian minister added.
Lavrov also touched on the issue of recognition of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and the situation with Crimea. He said that Russia is not forcing anyone into anything.
“We are brought up differently. I can’t even imagine a situation when we would anything like that. As for the fact that “we can do that”, it still involves the need to step over our principles.”
In addition, Lavrov noted that negotiations with Belarus are “in strict accordance with the agreements that were concluded in the 1999 Union Treaty.”
“We don’t talk about anything else. There are identified priority objectives we have to move forward to. The governments of both countries are working hard on behalf of the presidents,” he added.
In September 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to sign an agreement on setting up an airbase in the Belarusian territory. However, the base has never been established.
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Alexander Lukashenko said that the Belarusian military can repel any aggression without Moscow’s help and none of the countries actually need it.
Belarus currently accommodates two Russian military facilities: a separate radio-technical center in Gantsevichy and a communications compound in Vileyka.
Under the Russian-Belarussian accords of 6 January 1995, they, together with land plots, were transferred to Russia for use until 2020.