In 2021, the military of Russia and Belarus have planned a record number of joint exercises. Mostly they will be held in August – early September. They will be attended by sapper units, logistics agencies, military police and commandant units. The main task of the training is to prepare the army units of the two countries for this year’s largest maneuvers “West-2021”, which also promise to become one of the most massive in recent years.
A year of joint maneuvers
The forces and means of material and technical support of the armies of Russia and Belarus will jointly work out combat missions in August this year, Izvestia sources in the military department said. From the RF Armed Forces, the troops of the Western Military District (ZVO) will be mainly involved in the exercises.
According to the sources of the publication, a series of exercises in August-September is designed to demonstrate the combat readiness of the troops of Russia and Belarus. And besides, to prepare units and subdivisions of material and technical support for this year’s largest exercises “West-2021”, which will be held at the training grounds of the two countries and will also become one of the most massive in recent years.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko during the West-2017 joint strategic exercise of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation
Photo: RIA Novosti / Sputnik / Victor Tolochko
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A wide range of tasks will be practiced during the Russian-Belarusian logistical exercises. Including the provision of troops with fuels and lubricants, food and other material resources. A logistics base will also be created to supply these resources.
Exercises of the Russian military police and the commandant units of Belarus are scheduled for August-September. Before the military police appeared several years ago, there were also commandant units in the Russian Federation. In the same period, joint maneuvers of the engineering troops of the two countries will take place.
Earlier, the head of the Russian military department, Sergei Shoigu, at a joint collegium of the defense ministries of Russia and Belarus, said that more than 120 events are held annually within the framework of bilateral cooperation, half of which are related to operational and combat training. Sergei Shoigu assessed the level of cooperation in the military sphere of the two countries as optimal.
Joint exercises of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation “West-2017”
Photo: Izvestia / Mikhail Tereshchenko
In December, at a meeting of the military council of the Western Military District, the commander of the district troops, Alexander Zhuravlev, said that preparations for the West-2021 exercises had already started. The maneuvers will take place from 10 to 16 September. As Sergei Shoigu said in December last year, they will become “the most important event for practicing the practical actions of the troops” and will be aimed at further strengthening the security of the Union State.
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On January 18, the Minister of Defense of Belarus Viktor Khrenin announced that on the territory of the republic the maneuvers would take place at five training ranges. The scenario assumes a phased escalation of the military-political situation around the conditional countries. In the course of the exercise, the troops will practice new methods of operation of the combined assault units in highly urbanized areas.
Given NATO’s activity
The Ministry of Defense of Belarus reported that in his report to the head of state Alexander Lukashenko, Viktor Khrenin reported that the plan of the exercises was developed taking into account the influence of NATO countries on the situation in the republic. The minister noted that in recent years, the intensity of combat training has increased in countries that border Belarus in the west, as well as in Ukraine.
“In the western direction, excluding Belarus, we have a very small strategic depth,” military expert Viktor Murakhovsky told Izvestia. – From the border of the Smolensk region to Moscow can be reached in a few hours by car. In addition, Belarus is extremely important for us from the point of view of connectivity with the Kaliningrad exclave, although it does not border on it. Therefore, it is very important to have a unified air defense system and a unified defense planning system against possible aggression. In this case, it is necessary not only to agree on plans, but also to work out joint actions of commanders, headquarters, and troops.
Photo: Izvestia / Mikhail Tereshchenko
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The strategic exercises “West” are held every four years. Practically all the Armed Forces of Belarus participate in them. Part of the Western Military District’s troops, including the Baltic Fleet, is involved from Russia. Traditionally, units and subunits from other districts, as well as the Airborne Forces, are transferred to maneuvers.
Due to the restrictions imposed by international treaties, the scope of the Zapad-2021 exercises is inferior to the strategic ones, which are held in the Central and Eastern military districts. According to the Defense Ministry, in 2017, 12,700 servicemen, up to 680 units of weapons and military equipment, about 70 aircraft and helicopters, and 10 ships were attracted to the Russian-Belarusian exercises. They were approximately the same in scale in previous years.
But even in spite of the limited nature, each time these regular maneuvers attract a lot of attention from the countries of Europe and NATO. During their implementation, the actions of reconnaissance aircraft and ships of foreign states near the borders of Belarus and Russia are sharply intensified.
Joint Russian-Belarusian exercises “Union Shield-2019”
Photo: Global Look Press / MOD Russia
In addition to the large strategic exercises “West” every two years, the military of the two countries conduct “Union Shield” maneuvers. The previous ones took place in 2019. They work out the interaction of the joint regional grouping of troops of the two states.
Small contingents of Belarusian servicemen also regularly take part in Russia’s strategic exercises in other districts. The calculations of long-range air defense systems are trained annually at the training grounds of our country. Several years ago, with the participation of Belarusian paratroopers, a unique joint landing on a drifting ice floe in the North Pole region took place.