Belarus may host Russian missiles

The Head of the Russian Missile Forces says they haven't ruled out the possibility of supplying short-range missiles to Belarus. The Iskander system deployment would be in response to U.S. AMD plans in Europe. He adds it would some way address what he see

The statement comes as the Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, Yury Baluevsky, is in Brussels taking part in a NATO meeting.

He's distanced himself from his colleague but saw no reason why Russia couldn't provide missiles to Belarus.  

“These missiles don't fall into the categories listed in the treaty, because their range is 400 kilometres. So, we have the right to sell them. Belarus is our ally in the west, so if Belarus deploys these missiles, then it's a joint decision of politicians and the military,” Yury Baluevsky said.

The Chief of the Russian Armed Forces  
            General Staff, Yury Baluevsky
The Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, Yury Baluevsky
“As I suppose, someone in the United States still has a desire, mildly speaking, to solve the current problems using the existing U.S. weapons. But to solve these problems in such a way, one needs to get full information that the use of these weapons won’t cause a counterstrike,” he told Russia Today.

“And once deployed in Europe, it [anti-missile shield] won’t be aimed at Iran. Because why deploy a system against some alleged Iranian system that doesn’t exist? But there’s a system in Russia. And in any case by 2011 the Americans are planning to deploy the radar and by 2012, 2013 those antimissiles and that radar will be definitely aimed at Russia.”

Some observers now fear a new arms race. 

“One day I'm sure the U.S. will try to deploy a missile defence shield in space, and other countries will try to do the same if we will not find a solution like new international agreements about that,” says Vadim Kozyulin, an arms expert from the Moscow-based Political Studies Centre.

Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma has voted to suspend the country's involvement in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.

“It's more of a political issue. And to be honest, this treaty as it is now is quite convenient for the U.S. – it gives them an opportunity to go ahead with the reconfiguration of their armed forces in Europe. And the Baltic States – firstly Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – are allowed to remain in the so-called grey zone,” Yury Baluevsky said. .
NATO disagrees with Russia's decision.

“We think this treaty provides confidence, transparency and stability in Europe, and not just for us, but for the Russian Federation very much so. From our point of view this is something that needs to be kept and ratified as soon as possible,” stressed James Appathurai, NATO spokesperson.

To see more, watch our Spotlight programme.