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Lukashenka needs Russian aircraft for Ice Hockey World Championship  ? 73

15:43, — Politics

Lukashenka needs Russian aircraft for Ice Hockey World Championship

The ruler asks Russian aircraft to hold the Ice Hockey World Championship.

The Belarusian ruler answered questions of journalists on March 23, BelTA reports. Here are some of the answers:

RIA Novosti: Russia has said it's ready to increase the number of Russian aircraft to 24 by the end of the year. How long will they stay in Belarus? Are there more plans on joint military exercises with Russia? How will we defend the borders of our motherland?

Lukashenka: I'll say nothing new. You know that the Belarusian and Russian armies have annual exercises in Belarus and Russia on a rotating basis. If they are held in Russia, they are based on the Russian Armed Forces, we have fewer our units there. They are also organised in Belarus, and this is the most important, because the Belarusian army is the base of the Belarusian-Russian union in the western direction and, in case of a conflict or combat actions, western units of Russia are strengthened and sent here or another place depending on plans. But they are joint military exercises. We agreed, and I was insisting on it, to train our soldiers.

There's no big problem. It's not pressure from Russia. It was my request for 10 jets. If they give 20 more aircraft, the more so that they get fuel and salary in Russia, it will be very profitable for us. A plane is an expensive toy for the state.

RIA Novosti: How long will they stay in Belarus?

Lukashenka: We asked to give at least a half of them before and after the championship. We have to provide a normal atmosphere inside the country. In fact, the championship was just an excuse. Does it make difference whether we have the championship or not? Are any military exercises under way?

I think we'll agree with Russia on how long they will stay here. They will stay here for as long as we want it. If the president takes a decision to prolong their stay, if Russia agrees, they will stay longer. It will depend only on Belarus.

Belarusian Radio, the First Channel: Do you think a certain aggravation of the situation near the Belarusian border can affect the Ice Hockey World Championship hosted by our country? Is there need of taking some additional security measures for guests and participants of the event?

Lukashenka: You know, it's over-aggravation. What can happen to us if ten or twenty thousand foreigners, hockey fans come to us? We are pragmatic. We understand there will be a number of provocateurs among them, especially among journalists, or under the name of journalists. Many want to find faults with me ahead of the championship. BelaPAN asks its question too. I know that they were instructed to ask this question, so they did it. The West seems to worry and want to know it.

I've just said: do not heat up tensions. Do not try to use the championship to press on me. Don't do it.

We received the right to host the world championship. We've prepared everything, built the required facilities, though the situation was difficult. You think it was easy to construct two arenas for matches? It wasn't. [We've built] hotels and infrastructure across the country, not only in Minsk.

Photo: RIA Novosti

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