Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev’s late April visit to Minsk also resulted in finalizing the Russian-Belarusan “blueprint [kontseptsya] for joint military procurement.” Russia’s Security Council approved that joint document last week; the Russia-Belarus Union’s Executive Committee–a bilateral, permanent, high-level intergovernmental body–confirmed it yesterday (Itar-Tass, May 6).
Lukashenka had his own opinion, however. In his speech yesterday at the Topaz military production plant in Minsk, the president urged that greater use be made of Belarusan models in the process of standardizing the Russian and Belarusan military equipment. Lukashenka demanded both that Russia increase military production orders to Belarusan plants and that it pay for the goods. He portrayed Moscow as a debtor–and a bad debtor–to military production plants in Belarus: “We work and we deliver to Russia, but Russia practically doesn’t pay. When we fall into debt for their gas, they dwell on that and spread the word all over the mass media that we are a burden to them. But they fall silent when it comes to their debts to us.”
Lukashenka went on to urge the Belarusan military-industrial sector to maximize hard currency earning exports (Russian agencies, May 6). Some of those Belarusan exports are known to compete with Russia’s on certain markets. Lukashenka’s instruction would seem to imply subtracting at least some of the more advanced production capacities in Belarus from the joint Russian-Belarusan military-industrial complex which the just-approved blueprint seems to indicate.
YUSHCHENKO DOES NOT GO.