The Belarusian Defense Ministry faces financial constraints

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By Andrei Parotnikau

Rearmament of the Belarusian army has encountered serious budgetary constraints without any sign of improvements in 2021.

On November 23, Belarusian Defense Minister Khrenin announced plans to import some weapons from Russia in 2021, such as the second batch of 4 Su-30SM fighters. The purchase of new fire support helicopters and armoured personnel carriers is also planned, yet without a timeframe. The minister noted that in 2020, rearmament of the Belarusian army was carried out per the state’s economic capabilities of the state and that in 2021 this approach will prevail.

Belarus and Russia signed the agreement for the supply of 12 Su-30 SM fighters in 2017. According to the agreement, the planes were supposed to be supplied in batches of four per year. The first batch arrived in Belarus in the autumn of 2019. In 2016, Belarus announced the purchase of all 12 fighters by 2020, but since then the ministry was constrained by the lack of funds. That said, in 2015, Lukashenka strongly opposed such plans.

In 2020, a shortfall in budget revenues hampered Belarus’ military import plans. Although Belarus aimed to increase military spending by one third in 2021, the purchasing power of the Belarusian Defense Ministry is unlikely to improve dramatically next year amid a likely devaluation of the Belarusian rouble. Moreover, amid significant economic difficulties and an unfavourable epidemiological situation, expensive arms purchases may be politically impractical. Hence, Belarus’ prospects for the purchase of the next batch of Su-30 SMs next year have dimmed.

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