Belarus Cashes $200 Million from Weapon Sales Every Year

About 80,000 military men and 20,000 civilians serve in the Belarus army at present. As Belorussian Minister of Defence Leonid Maltsev announced at the press-conference dedicated to the Fatherland Defender Day, after the 2006 military reform, this number will go down to 50,000 military men and 15,000 civilians. Mr. Maltsev further confirmed that Belarus is selling practically all her active weapons to other countries; antipersonnel mines being the only exception. However, as Mr. Maltsev noted, Belarus does not break any international regulations and does not arm terrorist organisations or sanctioned countries. According to the official statistics, the sale brings Belarus about $200 million a year, while the opposition insists this number is close to a billion US dollars.

The Defence Minister is convinced that Belarus became an important weapons seller only because her warehouses have been stacked with weapons and machinery since the USSR times, much of the weaponry not needed due to cuttings in military personnel.

Mr. Maltsev noted that the Defence Ministry proposed to shorten the military service period down to one year, but the Internal Forces Headquarters turned down the initiative. So the service time is likely to remain the same, just like the forces composition, because, in Mr. Maltsev's words, 'only rich countries can afford professional army.'

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