Belarus plans to purchase more than $1 billion worth of Russian weaponry, including the potential supplies of S-400 missile systems, said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday for extended talks that centered primarily on military cooperation between the two allies.
“I am very grateful to the Russian leadership, military and the Russian defense industry for agreeing on a whole list of weapons that will be here by 2025. It is, indeed, about a dozen planes ... some of them have already arrived. These are several dozen helicopters, TOR-M2...I will not name the total amount, although this is not a big secret, it is more than $1 billion,” Lukashenko said, as quoted by the BelTA news agency on Monday.
The president also said his government was in talks with Moscow for the supply of S-400 missile systems.
“We are in talks and planning the supplies of the S-400 [systems],” Lukashenko said. “The western direction of Belarus is now fully covered by S-300 missile systems. But we now have the southern direction.”
Capable of engaging targets at a distance of 400 kilometers and at an altitude of up to 30 kilometers, the S-400 missile system can destroy aircraft as well as cruise and ballistic missiles. It can also be used against land-based targets.
During the meetings in Moscow, Lukashenko and Putin also discussed other issues of interest, including 28 so-called Union State programs designed to harmonize Russian and Belarusian laws in various areas of the economy.
The programs are part of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, an organization formed in December 1999 aimed at boosting economic integration between the two countries.
The two countries are currently conducting a series of week-long joint war games that kicked off Thursday. The Zapad-2021 maneuvers are taking place in both Russia and Belarus, and involve as many as 200,000 troops, 80 aircraft, 760 armored vehicles and 15 warships.
The show of military force comes amid heightened tensions between the West and Belarus, which came to a head since the presidential election in August last year, which Lukashenko won.
Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya rejected the official results and claimed voter fraud, without providing any evidence. Western governments came out in her support, repeating the allegations of vote-rigging, also without proof.
The US and the European Union (EU) have already imposed a raft of sanctions on Belarusian companies and officials over the voter fraud allegations, which Belarus has rejected as baseless.