Lukashenka: We created combined group in western direction
14:02, — Politics
The ruler has announced wider military cooperation with Russia.
Lukashenka offers the VTB Group to expand cooperation in new areas, including the defence sector. He said it in Minsk on Tuesday at a meeting with Andrei Kostin, the chairman of the management board of VTB Bank, Interfax reports.
“We have always been in favour of a wider cooperation, also in the defence sector. This is very important for Russia today. We can make a breakthrough and, with proper financing, not only upgrade [military enterprises], but also produce products for the needs of the defence industry of Russia, which also means for Belarus,” Lukashenka said.
He noted the VTB Bank's support to the Belarusian economy was $300 million last year. “It's good help. Such a giant as the VTB Bank is capable of more,” he said.
Lukashenka recalled that the armed forces of Belarus and Russia were closely integrated. “In fact, we have the common army. We have a combined group in the western direction, so it [the cooperation between Belarus and the VTB Bank] will be a contribution to Belarus's defence sector,” the ruler added.
Kostin noted that the VTB Bank has been working in Belarus for the 6th year and planned to increase its presence in the country. “Belarus has the right banking culture of not only lending, but also paying loans. We continue to increase banking services here in all sectors and spheres,” he said.
The VTB president noted the bank issued loans both to the Belarusian government and companies in the country. Lending to individuals has also grown lately.
Russian observation stations are located in Belarus. More than 20 Russian fighter jets and transport aircraft were sent to Belarus this year. Belarus and Russian has a common air defence system. All aircraft and missile launchers are dual-purpose.
Moreover, according to reports, soldiers and officers of Russia have been serving in Belarus for a few years. Russian soldiers serve in their own military units, wear the uniform of the Belarusian armed forces and submit to the Russian command.
Ahead of the Ukrainian crisis, the joint military exercises were held with Russia to practice nuclear strikes at Warsaw and a breakthrough to Kaliningrad through the territory of Lithuania.
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