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Popular Front tells government to get rid of Russian military infrastructure
The Party of Belarusian Popular Front (BPF Party) has proposed the government of Belarus to get rid of the Russian military presence near the towns of Hancavicy and Vilejka. The party's council has issued an ad hoc statement which reminds that the 1995 agreements between Belarus and Russia on the 25-year-long lease of land for the Russian military stations will expire in 2020. The Popular Front described the 1995 agreements as a mistake.
"Hosting Russia's strategic military instructure in Belarus contradicts the current national security concept, does not serve the interests of Belarusian people and makes our country a primary target in the event of a military conflict between Russia and other countries in possession of the weapons of mass destruction," the statement says. After the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, "the probability of Russia taking part in large-scale military conflicts has increased." In this situation, Belarus is becoming "a hostage against its will."
The BPF Party stresses that the hopes for "economic effect" of having the Russian military stations in Belarus have turned out to be wrong, as trade wars (gas, oil, foodstaffs) between Minsk and Moscow are ongoing.
The BPF Party reminds that in early 2019 it will be last moment when Belarus may announce its unwillingness to renew the rental agreements. The party does not rule out that the government may be having talks with Russia "behind our people's back" to extend the lease. It describes the lack of public information from Belarusian authorities about the future of these military stations as unacceptable. The BPF says it has launched an outreach campaign against the rental extension for the Russian military stations. It proposes that the government openly made it known to Russia that the lease would not be extended.
Belarus is home to two Russian military stations: a Russian Navy submarines communication center near Vilejka and an early-warning Volga-type radar near Hancavicy operated by the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces.