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2019.10.23 17:30

Minsk seeks closer defence ties with Beijing as China expands presence in Belarus

LRT.lt2019.10.23 17:30

As China expands its economic presence in Belarus with the Belt and Road Initiative, Minsk is also seeking to scale up defence cooperation with Beijing, Belarusian state-owned news agency, BelTA, reported on Tuesday.

During the meeting between the Belarusian Defence Minister Andrei Ravkov and his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, the ministers spoke about joint military training, military education and interaction within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, according to BelTA.

Belarus is currently an observer state in the cooperation pact established in 2001 which includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan as members.

Read more: Lithuanian hardline on Belarus cracks with China’s investment push

Meanwhile, Belarusian President Alexander Lukahshenko ordered on Tuesday to draw up plans in response to US troops deploying in Lithuania.

A rotational US armoured battalion, equipped with Main Battle Tanks and Infantry Fighting Vehicles, arrived in Lithuania on Monday as part of the Operation Atlantic Resolve aimed at deterring Russia.

Lithuanian Minister of Defence said on Wednesday that the deployment, to last until spring 2020, posed no threat to Belarus, as "Lithuania is directly interested in the preservation of Belarus' independence and territorial integrity, as well as the development of economic cooperation”.