Defense ministers Pavel Grachev and Leanid Maltseu and the collegiums (top hierarchy) of the Russian and Belarusian Defense Ministries conferred yesterday in Moscow on strengthening cooperation. They signed a total of 10 documents on developing a joint defense and regional security concept and policy, joint operational training, and the common use of military installations and infrastructure (i.e., use of Belarusian installations by Russian forces) "to ensure regional security." They also agreed on principles for creating and operating a single "regional" air defense system, a schedule for drafting agreements on the creation and use of a "regional group of Russian and Belarus forces," and military-industrial cooperation.
Grachev stressed that the agreements built on the CIS collective security treaty and said the agreements constituted a military dimension of the Yeltsin-Lukashenko April 2 agreement which created the Russia-Belarus Community (SSR). Grachev credited the latter agreement for "hugely boosting" military cooperation. Denying that such cooperation responded to NATO enlargement plans, Grachev reserved the right for Russia to take countermeasures in the "Western region" if Poland and Lithuania (both bordering Belarus) are admitted into NATO. Grachev indicated that such countermeasures would include augmenting Russian forces in Belarus and the creation of a Russia-Belarus group of forces. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, Western agencies, May 14)
The Belarus constitution and legislation provide for the country’s neutrality. They would have to be heavily amended by the country’s parliament in order to allow implementation of these plans. Maltseu yesterday expressed confidence that the Belarus parliament would do so. Parliament chairman Semyon Sharetsky is arriving in Washington for a U.S. tour beginning today.
Fallout in Neighboring Poland.