Russia Planning Forward Fighter Base

The Russian air force is negotiating an agreement with Belarus to establish a forward fighter base there to counter increased NATO fighter rotations to neighboring Poland and the Baltic States, state-run TASS Russian News Agency reported. Russia deployed six Su-27s just across the border from US F-15s and F-16s in Poland and Lithuania last March, and Russian air force chief Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev earlier announced plans to permanently base Su-27s in central Belarus as early as 2016, according to the report. Belarusian defense minister Lt. Gen. Andrei Ravkov said the timing and location is still under discussion, but the country is “ready to undertake all necessary measures” to host a Russian air force presence, according to TASS. “Belarus cannot ignore changes in the military-political situation in the region, that bear additional risks,” Ravkov said, quoted in the report.