Belarus won’t get S-400

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Back on January 14, 2021, the commander of the Air Force and Air Defence Forces of Belarus, Ihar Holub, announced that the country’s authorities were planning to conclude a contract with Russia for the supply of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) and anti-aircraft missile-gun systems “Pantsir-S”.

Then, for a long time, silence reigned around the issue of Belarus’ acquisition of Russian air defence systems. Only on June 24, First Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) of Russia, Andrei Boytsov, said that Russia was ready to consider the possibility of supplying these air defence systems and air defence systems to Belarus in the shortest possible time. …

On August 9, Aliaksandr Lukashenka also stated that Belarus is interested in obtaining the Russian S-400 air defence system: “This question has been put before the President of Russia — at a reasonable price, for a loan, because we do not have that kind of money now. But we are conducting a dialogue with him about the delivery of the S-400 to the Republic of Belarus”. “S-400 is of great interest to us, and I am sure that we will receive these complexes,” he added.

But these dreams are not destined to come true yet. On August 25, at the “Army-2021” International Military-Technical Forum in Russia, FSMTC Director Dmitry Shugaev said that the issue of supplying Belarus with Russian S-400 air defence systems had not yet started to be resolved, but Moscow is ready to promptly consider this issue if necessary. because “with such a fraternal country as Belarus, we see no reason to feel negative about it”. Further he noted: “In case we receive an application for purchase of S-400 or “Pantsir-S1” from Belarus in accordance with the established procedure, we will start working on this issue in a short time”.

Why is Russia not ready to supply Belarus with these air defence systems?

Obviously, the reason is connected not only with the financial factor. Indeed, speaking on August 9, 2021, Lukashenka said that the funds of the Russian state loan, which was previously issued for the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, could be used that for the purchase of the S-400 and other modern Russian weapons: “We saved a lot of money at the nuclear power plant. But there was a promise from Putin: here is a loan for a nuclear power plant of USD 10 billion, the money that you save can be used for other projects”.

“So I want to build a nitrogen plant for this money, and we will additionally process about 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas. From USD 300 million to USD 500 million will remain after this — a decent amount, which we will direct for the purchase of military-technical equipment, including the S-400 complexes”, — Lukashenka explained.

Most likely, Russia is not able to provide its formal ally with these air defence systems, since the delivery of S-400 air defence systems to Turkey and India is of higher priority. In particular, that the signing of an additional contract for the supply of S-400 to Turkey is expected by the end of the year — Alexander Mikheev, Director General of Rosoboronexport, told reporters at the “Army-2021” forum on August 25. (The first contract for the supply of the S-400 was signed by Russia with Turkey in 2017, and the delivery was carried out by aircraft from the Ministry of Emergencies and the Russian Aerospace Forces in the summer-autumn of 2019).

It is also planned to deliver the first regimental set of S-400 air defence systems to India by the end of the year. FSMTC Director Dmitry Shugaev said this at the “Army-2021” forum, noting that the production of the S-400 for India is proceeding according to schedule.

On August 23, Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, Deputy General Director for Foreign Economic Affairs of the “Almaz-Antey” Concern, announced that the first batch of S-400, the production of which began in February 2020, will be delivered to India by the end of 2021.

Based on the fact that under a contract with a total value of USD 5.43 billion, India will receive five S-400 regimental sets, the cost of one regimental set is at least USD 1 billion. So, it is unlikely that Russia will supply it for USD 300 million or even USD 500 million remaining in the pot of the Belarusian authorities from the “nuclear loan”.

In addition, given that the delivery of all five sets of S-400 to India is planned to be completed by the end of 2024, therefore, “Almaz-Antey” concern will be involved in this period for the implementation of this contract. Then it will carry out the production of the S-400 for Turkey. And this is another 3-4 years, depending on the number of regimental sets. “During this time, either the donkey dies or the Emir”, as Khoja Nasreddin said.

Leanid Spatkai, specially for Belarus Security Blog

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