MOSCOW, February 19 (RIA Novosti) – Belarus will bolster its air defense systems during the Ice Hockey World Championships in May, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
Air defense divisions will be operating in a “special regime,” including raising the number of staff members on duty, the ministry’s newspaper “For the Glory of the Motherland” reported.
This is the first time that the ex-Soviet country is hosting the games, and it has undertaken special efforts to make sure they go off without a hitch.
It has also waived visas for foreigners during the games, which will run from May 9 to 25.
But European officials have bristled at a recent buildup of military forces in the country, which borders NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Russia moved four Su-27 fighter jets into the Baranovichi airbase in western Belarus in December, the first of a Russian squadron to be permanently assigned there by next year.
Russia also hopes an agreement with Belarus to create a joint regional airspace defense network will soon be extended to include Armenia and Kazakhstan.