MINSK, Belarus – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signaled his intentions to establish a Russian military air base in neighboring Belarus.
Belarus has made clear it would not welcome a Russian base but the former Soviet republic remains dependent on Moscow for credit and energy.
Putin on Saturday ordered the Russian Defense Ministry, with the participation of the Russian Foreign Ministry, to hold talks with their Belarusian counterparts and sign the agreement that is reached.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has not commented on Putin's initiative. The two presidents met Friday in the Russian city of Sochi.
Russia has two military facilities in Belarus — a radar station and a submarine communications center — but this would be the first base.
Belarus borders Ukraine and three NATO and EU members: Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.