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Lukashenko appoints new defense minister, Chief of General Staff

MINSK (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko has appointed the new defense minister and head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus on 20 January, BelTA has learned.

Major-General Viktor Khrenin, who led the troops of the Western Operational Command, has been appointed Belarus' Defense Minister. Major-General Aleksandr Volfovich, who previously served as First Deputy Head of the General Staff, has been appointed Chief of the General Staff.

According to the president, former Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov has been appointed State Secretary of the Security Council. “We are military people and are living in the challenging times. This does not mean that we will be in a war tomorrow and will have to fight against someone. The military organization, however, does not tolerate uncertainty,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

According to the head of state, candidates for the post of Defense Minister and Chief of the General Staff were considered for several months. The president explained the appointments: “It is very important for us now to give more weight to the army. Both Khrenin and Volfovich are people of the same caliber, qualified people. I studied their biographies carefully: they went one and the same path. I always look meticulously to see if people have had the experience ‘on the ground'. Both of them commanded platoons and battalions, which means they have a first-hand experience in the military. This is very important. I think they will find an understanding. It cannot be otherwise in the Belarusian army. If there is no understanding, it means that there should not be such people there.”

The president noted that Aleksandr Volfovich has excellent experience of working in the General Staff, and he is described as a very good practitioner. “I thought it necessary not to pull him out of there, because the position of Chief of the General Staff is very important,” the head of state said. “Of course, I am not ripe to reform the army in such a way as to make the defense minister a representative post while the chief of staff is actually the head of the army. I think that the unity of command is normal for us: we have a compact armt, not so big and not so small. We do not need to break the governance structure here. But finding common ground is necessary.”

The president added that all the candidates had been thoroughly considered. He described them all as well-qualified and devoted people “who do not imagine their life without Belarus.” “I think we have common goals. We have common tasks which we need to address together,” he said.