According to the Russian TASS media outlet, the Russian president ordered the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign affairs to start negotiations, the aim of which would be to reach an agreement with Belarus, concerning establishment of a Russian airbase within the territory of that state.
Location of the base has not been defined, however, the earliest rumours regarding the facility are dated back to 2013. The Russians stated that the base was to be located in Lida, in the Western part f Belarus, then some reports suggested that the location would be shifted to Baranoviche. The negotiations were reportedly at a stage which was so advanced that the number and type of the jets was also disclosed (24 Su-27SM3 jets). Bobruysk was also considered as a potential location, where the base could have been established. Shift of the location of the base to the east could have been related to the fact, that the Polish Air Force publicized its efforts to acquire the AGM-158A JASSM missiles.
The orders for both Ministries are related - most probably - to the Lukashenko’s visit to Sochi, where the Belorussian president was involved in talks with Putin. The talks supposedly covered the issue of support Moscow is going to provide for the Belorussian president during the Presidential election, scheduled to happen on 11th October.
The plans related to the agreement with Belarus were also mentioned by the Russian PM, Dimytry Medvedev. He stated that the purpose of the base would be to ensure protection of the external border of the Union State, in the air.
Belorussian President is skeptical, when it comes to permanent presence of the Russian Air Forces, within the territory of the Russia’s western neighbour. However, one cannot rule out a situation, in which the pressure imposed by Moscow forces Lukashenko to accept the Russian will to establish additional military infrastructure in Belarus, including an airbase.