Checkpoints in towns? Military drills kick off in Belarus

Large-scale command and staff exercises of the Armed Forces will be held on September 6-12 in Belarus.

About 7,500 troops, 260 armoured vehicles and 30 planes and helicopters will be involved in the war game that seems to be one of the biggest exercises of the Belarusian army over the recent years. To put that in context, the joint Belarus-Russia drills Zapad-2017 exercises had fewer Belarusian soldiers – around 7,000.

The game will be focused on repelling aggression upon the Republic of Belarus. According to the legend, the Belarusian military will fight against illegal armed groups and saboteurs, as well as protect the state border. Thus, the scenario resembles those of the previous exercises. These maneuvers are a logical continuation of previous work, Deputy Defense Minister Aleh Belakoneu said. Unlike Zapad-2017, when the military were trained to defend the Union State of Belarus and Russia, this time the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Belarus will be centre-stage.

The exercise will take place at six training grounds as well as sites in Brest, Hrodna, Mahiliou and Minsk regions.

It is highly likely that some cities and towns will also become venues, but they have not been named yet. According to Deputy Chief of Staff Andrey Paseka, territorial defense units will drill for ‘the protection of a large administrative and industrial centre’. If past experience is any guide, the involvement of territorial defense forces is followed by curfew restrictions, armed military patrolling and locating checkpoints in a settlement. So was the case of Zapad-2017, as well as the exercises in Berastavitsa in 2016. However, it is the first time when it comes to protecting a large populated place during maneuvers.

The army readiness is to be tested ‘in view of the tasks set by the head of State’ during the recent inspection, Belakoneu said, but failed to go into detail.

As reported earlier, in accordance with the instruction of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the State Secretariat of the Security Council conducted an audit of the Armed Forces of Belarus in the spring of 2018. Subdivisions of various troops were subject to control: reconnaissance, missile forces and artillery, mechanized, anti-aircraft missile forces, aviation, including training with fire. Up to 2,000 persons, including women, were summoned from the reserve.