Giving “good” on delivery to Minsk of modern combat aircraft, Moscow, in addition, expects to strengthen the binding of the obstinate ally to his “chariot”.
Russia and Belarus signed a contract for the supply of Belarusian air force and air defence fighter su-30CM. This was reported by the Russian media quoted the Director of the Federal service for military-technical cooperation Dmitry Shugaev.
The Moscow newspaper “Vedomosti” with reference to the Manager of one of the companies of the United aircraft Corporation wrote that 12 su-30CM will cost Belarus approximately $ 600 million. According to the publication, the payment will be used by Russian loans, the delivery will be made gradually so as not to create excessive pressure on the Belarusian budget: probably four cars a year.
Information on the expected delivery schedule of the fighter was confirmed by the Minister of defense of Belarus Andrei Ravkov. He added: “as soon As the beginning of the funding, this contract comes into force”. However, did not specify the timing of funding.
Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that the plans of Alexander Lukashenko on upgrading the national air force and air defense forces with modern aircraft is similar to the execution.
We will remind, on the question of the renewal of fighter aircraft, the Belarusian President expressed more than once. What is clear: the issue of airworthiness of the Park of the Belarusian military aviation from year to year worse.
The situation can be corrected only with the help of Russia. Its leadership (in spite of the irritation, which can sometimes cause the Kremlin policy of the Belarusian leader) seems to be interested in the strength of its Western Outpost. However, until recently, Moscow showed no special desire to satisfy the requests of our closest allies.
Suffice it to recall the story of the so-called ‘Indian’ su-30. We are talking about 18 Russian su-30K some time, was in the air force of India. Then they were replaced with more advanced su-30MKI and returned to the factory of Corporation “Irkut”. Rather, taken in Belarus 558 th aircraft repair plant in Baranavichy for repair and modernization program of the su-30KN for subsequent sale to avoid paying duties upon re-import to Russia.
Reviewers then there was a version that these machines can get the Belarusian ally. But even these are not new fighters, according to estimates, pulling in 15 million dollars per unit that Minsk was clearly not afford. Put car on a commercial or highly concessional in Moscow probably considered too expensive a gift — and sold the party of the rich in diamonds and Angola.
Some analysts saw this step not so much greed, how much the intention to bleed the air ally, then under the pretext of reducing its combat capabilities to take over the protection of the air border of Belarus.
No wonder soon the agenda of bilateral relations in the defence field there was the infamous question about placing in Belarus the Russian airbase, which has become a serious stumbling block.
So the news that Russia decided to supply Belarus (and in the credits) modern aircraft raises a natural question: what has forced the Kremlin to change its position?
First of all, the answer suggests that Moscow is not interested in the complete degradation of defense capabilities of allies, which covers the most important Western strategic direction, where the situation is deteriorating.
One of the main threats from the West, according to analysts, the Russian leadership considers the placement in Poland of the European missile defense base aimed at the position of the Russian strategic missile forces in the Central regions of the country. Its commissioning is scheduled for 2018. In recent years this factor was added the extension of NATO troops on the territory of the Baltic States and in Poland the same.
In the same series is the equipment of the Polish F-16 fighter jets with cruise missiles of air basing: original JASSM and then JASSM-ER c is increased, compared with the basic model range (900 km to 370 km).
However, I’d venture that there are several important circumstances that forced Moscow to take a positive decision on the supply of modern combat aircraft to Minsk.
“After the Crimea” in front of Belarus seriously faced the question of how to change the system architecture to ensure its security. Before the Ukrainian events it was based on a kind of a geopolitical deal with Russia. The essence of which was as follows: taking into account the strategic interests of Moscow in exchange for free access to the Russian market, plus the economic benefits and privileges. Provision was made for the cover of Belarus in case of need the Russian nuclear umbrella.
And for the Minsk military articles of this informal contract was not of primary importance, as in 1996 (when the contract is de facto happened), the question about the possibility of military confrontation with NATO is not viewed even in the long term.
But the events in Ukraine showed that Russia is ready to move on to the most decisive methods of direct and indirect effects with the aim to prevent the withdrawal of former Soviet republics, playing a role of a buffer against “NATO expansion” of its sphere of influence to the West. And for Belarus is unlikely to be made an exception if she (and Ukraine) dares to cross the red line.
This new alignment was, apparently, deeply traumatized by Lukashenko. Probably no less impressed him the fact that, formally, a large army of Ukraine were unfit for combat (both from the point of view of organization and training, and technically). She was not in the right quantity of necessary arms and military equipment. And no one from the outside did not provide it with modern means of defense. But most importantly: the leadership of the country in the first stage of conflict is not enough will to organize the defense of its territory.
From all this, it seems, Lukashenko has made some important conclusions.
First, he embarked on improving relations with the leading countries of the West and neighbours, most of whom are members of NATO. The Belarusian leadership tried to distance itself from the most odious in the eyes of the world community of Russia’s actions.
Second, in the development of the defense industry, priority has been given to the development and production of their own ready weapons lethal action in order to equip them in the shortest possible time the Belarusian army. To at least somewhat reduce the dependence in this respect from Russia. In particular, with the assistance of China was established reactive system of volley fire “Polonaise”.
Third, was reinforced by military training and accelerated technical re-equipment of special operations forces as the primary means to counter the hybrid war threats, externally imposed, regardless of their origin (defense strategy 360 degrees).
The main obstacles to the implementation of these plans is the chronic lack of financial resources for defence and the opposition of Russia, which Lukashenko’s intentions are no secret.
To induce the obstinate ally to greater obedience, Moscow is first and foremost economic pressure. Suffice it to recall the recent struggle over gas prices, limiting supplies of Russian oil to Belarusian refineries, tightening lending.
However, the Kremlin appears and flexibility. Along with the whip recently used the carrot in the form of supplies of modern weaponry at domestic prices and on favorable terms. In this context, and should consider the sale of Belarus multifunctional fighters su-30CM.
But such delivery to Moscow — and even way stronger binding (at least during the life cycle of this weapon) Belarusian ally, which in recent years has become (from the point of view of the Russian elite) to conduct an independent foreign policy too.
For Minsk increases the risk of an escalation of military confrontation with the West. After all, the su-30CM — is a strike aircraft with great range, and their emergence threatens to complicate relations of Belarus with NATO neighbors — Poland and the Baltic States. Yes, and Ukraine is not please.