President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, left, who met Oct. 26 near Moscow with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, says that Belarus would like to deploy missiles even if it doesn’t reach an agreement with Moscow.
MINSK, Belarus — President Alexander Lukashenko is in talks with Moscow about placing in Belarus advanced Iskander missiles that could hit targets deep inside Europe.
The talks raise the ante in the debate over a U.S. plan to deploy missile defense in Europe. They also complicate Western hopes for warmer ties with Belarus, which some in the U.S. and Europe hope could help to counterbalance an increasingly hostile Kremlin.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Lukashenko said that he would like to see closer relations with the West but that he sympathizes with Russia on two flashpoints that have rocked relations — the conflict in Georgia and U.S. plans to place antimissile systems in Europe to counter a potential threat from Iran.
Mr. Lukashenko said he “absolutely supports” Russia’s plans to place Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad that would target the U.S. missile system. Kaliningrad is a Russian enclave in Europe that borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania, and missiles there could reach the proposed U.S. missile sites in Poland.
Mr. Lukashenko said Russia also had proposed putting Iskander missiles in Belarus, which is situated between Russia and Poland. And if a deal on the issue isn’t reached, Belarus itself would like to deploy the missiles, he said.
“Even if Russia does not offer these promising missiles, we will purchase them ourselves,” said Mr. Lukashenko, who said the technology for the Iskander optics and fire-control systems comes from Belarus. “Right now we do not have the funds, but it is part of our plans — I am giving away a secret here — to have such weapons.”
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