Russia, Belarus sign air defense pact

Feb. 3, 2009 at 11:44 PM
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MOSCOW, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Russia and Belarus signed a military agreement Tuesday, pledging to jointly protect the skies over the two nations.

President Dmitry Medvedev and President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus signed the pact at a meeting in Moscow of the Russia-Belarus Union State Council, RIA Novosti reported.

The Russian government called the pact "a serious step in the development of military and military-technical ties between Russia and Belarus." The government has been building its ties with Belarus at least partly in response to U.S. plans to locate parts of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The joint air-defense system is to include five air force units, 10 anti-aircraft units, five technical and support units and one electronic warfare unit, Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, head of the Russian air force, has said.

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