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Russian Su-30SM Fighters Arrive in Belarus For Combined Operations: Joint Air training Centre To Be Established


On September 8th Russian Air Force Su-30SM heavyweight fighters arrived in Belarus as part of an agreement to establish a joint air force and air defense training centre, according to a statement by the Belarusian Defense Ministry press service. “Russian Aerospace Forces Su-30SM planes arrived to Baranovichi airport for establishment of the joint Air Force and Air Defense training centre of Russia and Belarus,” the statement said, adding that pilots from both Soviet successor states expected to conduct joint patrols of their air borders. The deployment, patrols  and establishment of a training centre were agreed on in meetings by the defence ministers of the two states on March 5th, with three training centres planned and the other two being located in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod and Kaliningrad regions. These steps to strengthen defence ties come as relations between Belarus and the Western world have continued to deteriorate from the late summer of 2020, with a multitude of factors causing tensions ranging from Western support for anti government protests and riots in 2020 to the growing perceived threat from expanding NATO forces in Eastern Europe. 

Belarus is Russia’s only major defence partner in Europe and one of the few states on the continent which has not joined the NATO alliance. The Belarusian Air Force acquired Su-30SM fighters from Russia from 2019, which are currently the heaviest multirole fighters with the most powerful engines deployed by any country on the continent – the AL-31FP. The fighters are based on the Su-27 Flanker airframe, which was the top air superiority fighter in the Soviet Air Force, and has sufficient endurance and standoff munitions to engage targets across the European continent. Russia’s choice of the Su-30SM to deploy to Belarus was likely intended to maximise interoperability between the two air forces as they operated together. Russian missile and air defence units arrive in Belarus on August 28, and Belarus is reportedly currently considering acquiring new long range air defence systems from Russia which will strengthen the security of the two countries. Belarus has long sought to retain policy and security independence from Russia, but a growing perceived threat from the West is considered to have been a major factor forcing it into closer ties with Moscow. 



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