Kremlin insists on Russian air base in Belarus in 2015
Russia’s Defence Minister, General Shoigu, said that in 2015 the airport in Bobruisk would accommodate 12 Russian combat aircrafts "Su-27", two combat-capable aircrafts "Su-27" and four unites of Mi-8 helicopters.
Previous reports said that the Russian airbase would be deployed in Belarus in 2016, i.e. after the 2015 presidential elections in Belarus. The Belarusian leadership wants to strengthen its defence system, but only through the sale or transfer of the Kremlin’s military technology to the Belarusian Air Force. However, Belarus is extremely dependent on Russia’s financial aid and the Belarusian government has fewer resources to resist the Kremlin’s pressure, which has been increasing recently regardless of Belarus’ viewpoints. Nevertheless, Belarus will continue to resist the deployment of a Russian airbase on her territory in 2015.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.