MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is planning to strengthen its integrated regional air defense network with Belarus and set up similar joint networks with Armenia and Kazakhstan, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.
“Such cooperation greatly enhances the defense potential of Russia and its partners, and contributes to strengthening peace and stability in Eurasia,” Putin said at a meeting with senior commanding officers in Moscow.
Moscow and Minsk signed an agreement on the joint protection of the Russia-Belarus Union State's airspace and the creation of an integrated regional air defense network in February 2009.
The network reportedly comprises five Air Force units, 10 air defense units, five technical service and support units, and one electronic warfare unit. It is part of the integrated air defense network of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in April that a number of Su-27SM3 fighter jets will be put on alert duty at the Lida airbase in Belarus. Russia will also deliver four battalions of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Belarus next year in addition to Tor-M2 air defense batteries earlier deployed in the country.
Russia announced plans to set up regional air defense networks with members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a regional security bloc that also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Apart from Belarus, Moscow signed an agreement to establish a regional air defense network with Kazakhstan last year.
A similar deal with Armenia has been in the works for some time, and Moscow will help Yerevan to expand and modernize its relatively small air force, according to CSTO officials.