The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has announced that the Eastern European nation will soon receive a large consignment of weapons from neighbouring Russia. The package will be agreed on during his visit to Moscow next week, according to Lukashenko. This will improve integration between the two countries, but he stressed that it would not erode Belarus' independence.
"There is no talk about the loss of sovereignty", Lukashenko said.
The package includes dozens of fighter planes, helicopters and high-performance air defence missile systems, possibly including the S-400 missile system. The latter missile system would be capable of shooting down air targets at a distance of 250 kilometres. Lukashenko announced the purchase as Russia and Belarus prepare for joint war games starting next week, involving an estimated 200,000 troops.
"We effectively have a single army, with the Belarusian military forming its backbone in the western direction", Lukashenko said.
The Belarusian leader is a close ally of Moscow and has asked Russia for support after his controversial re-election in 2020. Lukashenko claimed a sixth term in office after the vote, which sparked months of protests and accusations of a rigged vote from the Belarusian opposition and Western countries. Since the August 2020 vote, more than 35,000 people have been arrested in Belarus and thousands have reported police brutality.