By a unanimous vote on October 2, Russia’s Duma ratified two landmark documents codifying a military alliance of Russia and Belarus. A “treaty on military cooperation” reportedly includes a mutual obligation to withhold from third parties any military information about Russia and Belarus unless prior written consent has been given. An “agreement on joint measures to guarantee regional military security” regulates the formation, command, and training procedures of joint Russian-Belarusan groups of forces. This document appears to mark the first significant success of the Russian General Staff’s uphill effort to create in the ex-Soviet space “regional groups of forces” under Russian control (Russian agencies, October 2).
The defense ministries of Russia and Belarus signed in December 1997 a set of cooperation agreements which apparently laid the basis of a bilateral military alliance. Its applicability is limited to the immediate region, as President Alyaksandr Lukashenka publicly rules out any commitment of Belarusan troops outside the country.
SOLANA IN YEREVAN.