by Benson Agoha
As Europe and America prepare to impose a wave of sanctions on Russia over their role in the Ukraine Crisis, Russia has today transfered nine warplanes to Belarus to ‘counter massing of forces on the border’.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said Russia must allow Ukraine to be a bridge between Russia and the rest of europe or face sanctions.
But reports on Russia's RT Newspaper today said six Russian Sukhoi-27 fighter jets and three transport planes have been deployed at Bobruisk airfield in Belarus.
The report said Russia acted on invitation of Belarus President, Aleksandr Lukashenko, who earlier this week, invited Russian forces to fend off potential NATO threat.
In a statement credited to Belarus Defense Ministry in Minsk, RT said “In case of continuing build-up of military forces in countries bordering Belarus, the country will take adequate response measures.”
* Russian Sukhoi-27 Fighter Jets sent to Belarus will take part in drills in the event of war.
NATO is sending 12 F-16 craft in Poland, in the wake of the Crimea crisis, and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has asked for an even greater US presence. Baltic states have also requested military assistance from NATO, RT said.
Just like their NATO counterparts, the Russian aircraft in Belarus will participate in a joint training exercise.
“The joint air defense system [between Russia and Belarus] is intended to guarantee collective security in Eastern Europe,” the Belarusian Defense Ministry was quoted as saying.
A subsisting array of military agreements, already in place, mean that Russian and Belarusian troops can move freely throughout both countries, though it is unusual for them to be stationed abroad for any prolonged period of time, according to the report.
Crimea parliament has already voted to join Russia and urged Ukraine to accept and respect the decision. A referendum is being planned for March 16, to confirm the parliament's decision.
This transfer of the planes will add to the tension over efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis which resulted in the removal of Ukraine elected president Viktor Yushchenko following months of riots after he moved to align Ukraine more with Russia than joining the European Union.
Russia also deployed 8,500 troops for artillery drills in the south, according to RT. But there is no Russian armoured tanks in Ukraine, except for a WW2 monument.
But despite the West are not convinced that Russia is all out for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, as US Secretary of State John Kerry warn that the result of Sunday's referendum in Crimea must not be used by Russia as a basis for action in Ukraine.
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* Photo Credit: RT.