The Belarusian government is in discussion with Russia on deploying missiles in Belarus that could strike targets in Europe, the country’s president said.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told The Wall Street Journal he would like to see closer relationships with Western countries but he sympathizes with Russia on two points — the Georgian conflict and U.S. plans to build a missile shield in Europe.
Lukashenko said he supports Russia’s plans to place Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between Lithuania and Poland, to target the U.S. missile system.
Russia opposes the U.S. plan to deploy missiles and a radar system in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying the plan threatens Russia’s national security. The United States says the shield is needed to protect Europe against attacks from rouge states.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and his Belorussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko visit the Brest Fortress World War II memorial (225 miles) southwest of Minsk, Belarus, on June 22, 2008. This day in 1941, the garrison of the 19-century built fortress in the town of Brest was one of the first Red Army troops to confront the Nazi Germany’s Army attack on the Soviet Union in World War II. It held the line for over a month. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov)
Russia also had proposed putting Iskander missiles in Belarus, Lukashenko said. If no deal is reached, Belarus would consider deploying missiles itself, he said.
“Even if Russia does not offer these promising missiles, we will purchase them ourselves,” Lukashenko told the Journal. “Right now we do not have the funds, but it is part of our plans — I am giving away a secret here — to have such weapons.”