Moscow and Minsk must “fortify” Union state borders, says Defense Minister Shoigu
Moscow and Minsk must take “Urgent measures” strengthen their military capabilities in the face of “undeclared war” by the West, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Thursday after meeting with his Belarusian counterpart, Viktor Khrenine.
“Belarus is our most important strategic partner, our closest friend and our ally,” Shoigu said after the meeting in Moscow, adding that bilateral cooperation between the two members of the Union State is currently developing amid “an undeclared war against our countries” by the West.
“Circumstances dictate the need for urgent measures to strengthen the defense capabilities of the Union State”, said Shoigu, including strengthening an integrated air defense system. Russia is “ready to provide any support” Belarus might need it, he added.
Shoigu also hailed Belarus’ determination to “resist the divisive course of the United States and its allies” and invited Khrenin and a delegation from Minsk to the upcoming Moscow Security Conference and the International Military Games. Russia will share its “best practices” and other interesting discoveries with its allies there, the defense minister said.
Belarus is not officially involved in the current conflict in Ukraine, but the United States and its allies have nonetheless imposed related embargoes on Minsk.
Russia and Belarus signed the State of the Union Treaty in 1999, providing for the establishment of a common cabinet, parliament, courts and other institutions. While integration has not made much headway, Moscow and Minsk announced new plans last year to strengthen the union.