Russia must finance the army of Belarus?

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said that Russia must finance the Belarusian army. He said that the presidents of the two countries have certain agreement in this regard. The opposition has accused Lukashenko of surrendering the country, and the defense minister had to give a different economic interpretation to the words of head of state.

"There may have been an impression that at that meeting the need to find additional funds from the budget of Russia for the Belarusian servicemen was discussed. In reality, the following was stressed: the successful military cooperation between our countries may become one of the arguments in obtaining preferences on economic issues, for example, with respect to duties on oil or gas that will supplement the budget of the country and give an opportunity to raise the salaries of our troops," the Minister of Defense Yuriy Zhadobin said to "Belarusian Military Newspaper".

At a meeting with the Secretary of the Belarusian Security Council Leonid Maltsev and Defense Minister Yuriy Zhadobin Alexander Lukashenko spoke of the "practically mutual Army," and similar tasks facing the armed forces of the two countries. But the allowances of the officers of the two countries are different, and this situation should be corrected, the head of state said.

In fact, last year the Belarusian military was greatly impoverished. If at the beginning of 2011 the company commander's Salary according to various sources amounted to 600-700 dollars a month, after the inflation, when the Belarusian ruble declined nearly threefold against the U.S. dollar within the year, it dropped to $300.

"We agreed to work out an algorithm in this matter. In this regard, we have an agreement with the Russian president. I sent him a letter about the need to seek additional funds for Belarusian soldiers from different areas of cooperation of Belarus and Russia. And he promised to help with this plan," boasted Lukashenko. He also mentioned the need to build housing for servicemen.

This year the Belarusian budget allocated funds for the national defense in the amount of $550.1 million, or 3.3 percent more than last year. The estimated number of Belarusian army is approximately 65,000 people. At this time it is impossible to assess the amount of financial investments in the Belarusian army, or their price in trade preferences.

In response to falling wages, Belarusian army faces a shortage of young officers who leave for civil work. Part of the professional military gets employed by a variety of private military companies. The traces of the Belarusian military are regularly found in various hot spots. Minsk emphasizes that this is a private initiative of its citizens.

However, the Kremlin has remained silent and did not confirm that it will soon pay the neighboring armed forces in addition to its own. Meanwhile, Belarus is Russia's closest military ally, and there is high-level military-technical cooperation between the two countries. Moscow sells Minsk good weapons at domestic price, trains personnel for the Army and provides an opportunity to hone combat skills at the local facilities.

In terms of continuation of integration, co-financing of the Belarusian army is a logical step towards the creation of the Unified State, or union of several states.

However, the traditional secrecy of military budgets raises concerns about the transparency of the distribution of Russia's "contribution." But there is a positive thing: alternative losses that Russian budget would incur in the case of building its own groups of armed forces in the West would unlikely be lower than spending for the support of the allied armed forces.

Vladimir Shabanov.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov