Russia has offered to supply Belarus with S-400 and Pantsir-S1 defense systems on short notice if required, according to a senior Moscow official.
At the MILEX-2021 Arms Fair in Minsk, First Deputy Head of the Russian Federal Military and Technical Cooperation Service Andrey Boytsov remarked, “We are in close contact with our Belarusian colleagues on all issues related to military and technical cooperation.”
“In case of an application for the procurement of S-400 missile defense systems and Pantsir-S1 air defense systems, the matter will be addressed as soon as possible.”
Possible Replacement of S-300
The remark followed Belarussian air chief Igor Golub‘s statement in January saying that Minsk is in pre-contract talks with Moscow over a possible replacement of S-300 air defense missile systems with S-400 and Pantsir-S systems.
Golub also revealed that Belarus had signed contracts to purchase Mi-35 multirole fighter helicopters and Su-30SM fighters from Russia.
Strained Ties With EU, US
The Russian offer to supply Belarus with military hardware comes amid increasingly strained ties with the European Union and the US. The increased tension began last August over disputed Belarussian elections that handed Alexander Lukashenko a presidential reelection victory.
The disputed result triggered mass protests around the country, followed by a crackdown ordered by Lukashenko against opposition leaders and protesters.
NATO Near Belarussian Border
Amid the crackdown, Lukashenko accused NATO of amassing troops near its border with Belarus, a charge NATO denied.
“There is no NATO buildup in the region,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in a statement reported by Reuters. However, the accusation created a pretext for Russia to suggest a military alliance with Belarus to deter a possible NATO invasion.
NATO members Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia share a border with Belarus and 5,000 NATO troops stationed there. The troops were sent there in 2014 to deter a possible Russian invasion after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine.