Russia will continue training Belarusian Air Force pilots to fly combat jets that have been refurbished to carry a "special warhead," Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday during a joint news conference with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk.
"I think it would be possible to continue implementing the proposal made by the Belarusian President to train crews for Belarusian combat planes, which have already been retooled to potentially use air-based munitions with a special warhead," Putin said.
"The US, for example, has been carrying out similar measures with their NATO allies for decades," Putin said.
According to Putin, "such coordinated measures are exceptionally important due to the tense situation on the external border of the Union state."
“Taking into account the situation evolving along the border perimeter, I discussed with the [Russian] President some important details of cooperation in the sphere of military security," Lukashenko said during the same news conference.
"I have to tell you that we've prepared the aircraft. It turned out we've had such aircraft since the Soviet times. We tested them in the Russian Federation. We are now working with Russians to train the crews able to fly these aircraft that carry special ammunition,” Lukashenko said.
During the presser, Lukashenko also said: "Today we've put the S-400 [air defense missile] complex that you transferred to Belarus into a state of combat-readiness, as well as, most importantly, the Iskander complex, which you [Putin] have also handed over to us after promising it half a year ago."
Lukashenko offered earlier this year to take symmetrical military measures in response to Western actions, asking Russia to help upgrade Belarusian military planes to make them capable of carrying nuclear warheads, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.
Lukashenko had said in August that "everything is ready," according to TASS.