Russian president sees “no need” for reciprocal response to the alliance’s training flights
Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, on Saturday, that he doesn’t support the latter’s suggestion of offering “a mirror response” to NATO aircraft training flights.
During their meeting, in St. Petersburg, Lukashenko shared his concern over US and NATO aircraft “that are training to carry nuclear warheads and nuclear charges.” He asked his Russian colleague “to consider mirroring the answer to these things,” or at least to help Minsk to upgrade its planes.
Putin responded to the proposal by saying that while “there is no need” for reciprocity, Russia and Belarus have to take measures to ensure their own security, “as well as, probably, that of other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.”
In this context Putin suggested the modernization of “a fairly large group” of Belarus’ SU-25 aircraft in Russia and to start training of flight personnel. He also pledged that “within the next few months” Russia will send its ally Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which can use both ballistic and cruise missiles “in both usual and nuclear versions.”
Both proposals were welcomed by Lukashenko.
During the meeting Putin also updated his counterpart on NATO’s capabilities. He claimed that “Americans have 200 nuclear tactical munitions in six European member countries of the North Atlantic bloc,” with 257 aircraft, “not only American ones,” prepared for their possible use.
The meeting came on the day when Ukrainian intelligence accused Moscow of attempts to “drag” Belarus into its military action against Kiev. The Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry claimed that early on Saturday morning, Chernigov, Kiev and Sumy regions suffered “a massive missile shelling” by rockets fired from the city of Petrikov, Belarus, approximately 50-to-60km from the Ukrainian border.
It also added that on Friday, “Russian sabotage groups” arrived in the city of Mozyr in Belarus with the intention of blowing up local residential buildings, schools and hospitals in order to blame Ukraine for it.
Putin and Lukashenko did not comment on these allegations.