MINSK: Chinese troops on Tuesday took part in a military parade marking Independence Day in Belarus as the country’s authoritarian leader seeks closer ties with Beijing to counterbalance Russia’s influence, reports AFP.
For the first time, Chinese troops participated in an Independence Day parade in the capital alongside servicemen from Belarus and Russia, with military hardware including a multiple launch rocket system also on display.President Alexander Lukashenko has designated July 3 to mark the day that the Red Army liberated the capital Minsk from Nazi troops during World War II.
While mentioning tight relations with Russia, Lukashenko—often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator”—also said his country was “expanding cooperation with the People’s Republic of China—our strategic partner.”
“While paying tribute to the events of World War II, we remember that it began in the west and ended far in the east. It’s rather symbolic that today descendants of victorious soldiers are taking part in a parade together,” Lukashenko added.
Lukashenko whose country is hugely dependent on economic aid from former Soviet master is forced to perform a delicate balancing act as he seeks closer ties with China and the West in the hope of winning more investment to overhaul the struggling economy.
Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 has sent shockwaves across Belarus where Russian is widely spoken and which has a sizeable Russian community.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “integration processes” involving Belarus were a top priority for Moscow.