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Russian, Belarusian FMs Criticize U.S. Missile-Defense Plans

May 16, 2016

Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimer Makey says Belarus and Russia are concerned about the establishment of U.S. missile-defense systems in Eastern Europe.

Makey made his comments after meeting in Minsk on May 16 with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who also held talks with President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Makey said Belarus and Russia have agreed to discuss taking "appropriate countermeasures together" in light of U.S. and NATO plans to create a larger European missile shield with new systems in Romania and Poland.

Russia has protested the U.S. plans.

Washington has repeatedly said the systems will protect NATO members from short- and medium-range missiles, particularly from rogue states in the Middle East.

Lavrov added that Minsk and Moscow "share concerns on the issues of European security as our colleagues from NATO countries try to whip up confrontation and advance military infrastructure eastward close to our borders."

The foreign ministers also discussed the upcoming visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin, scheduled for early June.

Lavrov said on May 16 that Russia and Belarus had "issues we need to agree upon" but added that the two countries "do not bluff...we voice our concerns and proposals like true friends."

Makey said Minsk and Moscow were cooperating and "have absolutely no divergences."

Lavrov said issues involving the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization -- of which Russia and Belarus are members -- and security issues would also be discussed.

Minsk and Moscow formed a Union State of Russia and Belarus two decades ago but often experience economic disputes that lead to trade wars.

Minsk has noticeably improved its relations with the European Union and other Western states in the past year.

Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/belarus-russia-lavrov- talks-ahead-putin-visit/27738333.html

Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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