Air defense missile weapon system S-400 and “Tor” are to be received by Air defense of Belarus soon. Experts believe that their deliveries have been expedited by Kyiv’s intention to join the NATO.
It appears that it would be long since these super-modern air defense missile weapon systems appear in arsenal of antiaircraft defense of Belarus. Such a conclusion could be made from a recent statement of Headquarters Commander, First Deputy Head of Air Defense Troops of Russia's Air Forces Viktor Gumenny. He told that Belarusian military men could be able to get acquainted with Air defense missile weapon systems in summer this year during exercises at Russian training grounds Ashuluk. This report has been confirmed by Air defense Commander Major General Air Force and Air Defense Commander of Belarus Ihar Azaronak, a military expert Alyaksandr Alesin wrote in the newspaper “Belarusy i rynok”.
According to the reports in open sources, Air defense missile systems S-400 is intended to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 km.
The Russian Air Force announced that S-400 will be put on combat duty around Moscow and Central Russia by July 1.
In 2007 the first regiment equipped with S-400 entered active service in Moscow Oblast' near town of Elektrostal. Russian sources report the regiment based at Elektrostal is the 606th Guards 'Zenith' Rocket Regiment, 9th PVO Division, 1st PVO Corps, of the Special Purpose Command, the air defense command responsible for Moscow and the central industrial region.
As said by Special corps Commander who is responsible for air defense and anti-missile defense of the centre of the European part of Russia. Major General Yury Solovyov, at the moment troops have started to receive support equipment for the new regiment.
After experimental operation of first S-400 systems Triumf, which is to last for 2 years, required follow on development of the system and documents will take place. Then large-scale production will start, firstly for Russian Air Defense. Russian Armed Forces plan to have more than 20 regiments equipped by the new systems, and in the Air Defense of Moscow as well.
Meanwhile, in August 2007 Defense Minister of Belarus Leanid Maltsau said that Belarus plans to buy the newest air defense systems S-400 “instead of constantly updating the existing S-300 complexes”. Most likely that reports followed his meeting with Russian Defense Minister Anatol Serdyukov during exercises at Ashuluk military grounds.
The statement caused rather furious and contradictory response from experts then. It is understandable. On the one hand, public opinion is convinced that Minsk cannot pay for gas on time because of being poor. And it’s a purchase of about 500-600 mln dollars. On the other hand, endless delays of legal registration of the Single regional air defense system of Russia and Belarus have endangered A. Lukashenka’s image as a trustworthy ally, to whom the most modern armaments could be given, even those which are lacking in the Russian army still.
That is why the first reaction of unnamed high representatives of Russian military-industrial complex was exclusively negative and amounted to the following: Russia won’t sell S-400 even to its allies, as they do not have enough of the complexes themselves. The Defense Ministry placed a big order to this system because all manufacturing facilities will be busy in the near future. It could be decided differently if only the head of the state would say so.
Meanwhile, a later statement of the Director General of the scientific development and production center “Almaz”, a developer and manufacturer of S-400 Igor Ashurbeyli didn’t exclude a possibility of deliveries of this system abroad in foreseeable future. As said by him, manufacturing S-400 for export could start in 2009. According to Russian sources, Belarus ordered 2 divisions of S-400 by 2010.
A balanced consideration of this question gave a ground to a number of experts to say that S-400 could be soon received by arsenal of Belarusian Air Defense, as a reliable protection of the Western direction from air is one of the priorities of the military and political leadership of Russia. And the more so in the situation of expanding the NATO infrastructure to the east and possible deploying US defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.
These problems acquired additional relevance after Kyiv activated its efforts on joining the NATO, and Washington’s support to these efforts. Having swallowed the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary’s joining the NATO, and then the Baltic States’, Russia is set to oppose Ukraine’s joining in every way.
However, in case its diplomatic efforts prove futile, Moscow appears to nurture plans of further reinforcement of its western lines. In this connection not only the newest air defense missile weapon systems could be received by the Belarusian army, such as S-400 and Tor, but Iskander-type missiles.
As for conditions for their delivery to Belarus, experts do not exclude that it would take place as a kind of leasing. One could remember a recent agreement on S-300 complexes given to Minsk by Moscow.