Russia “reinforces its air and ground forces in western Belarus and begins training near the Polish border”
Russia is boosting its military capabilities in the air and on the ground in Belarus amid high tension with the West, according to reports.
Russian forces have begun “intensive training” at five military airfields in the authoritarian landlocked state bordering NATO countries Poland and Lithuania.
The moves come after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reaffirmed his support for Putin’s war on Ukraine during a visit to Moscow last month.
But it will dismay his generals, who wrote an extraordinary open letter to the despot imploring him to stay out of the war in Ukraine, calling such a move “pure suicide”.
They went further, calling the Russians an attempt to “destroy the sovereignty” of Belarus.
Despite this, around 20 high-level Air Force fighter pilots recently arrived by regular train from Moscow, reported Belarusky Gayun, a Telegram channel monitoring troop movements.
Russian ‘intensive’ military training exercises took place across Ukraine on Saturday, while an S300 anti-aircraft missile system was spotted being transported near the town of Baranovichi
A motorist took this photo of a Russian S-300 missile being transported to Belarus near Baranovichi
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reaffirmed his support for Putin’s war on Ukraine during a visit to Moscow last month
Russian (left) and Belarusian (right) soldiers shake hands during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at a firing range near Brest on the Polish border on February 19
Russia is also said to have taken control of the Prybytki air base in Belarus where it already deploys an S-400 battalion with Pantsir and Iskander missiles.
Officers of the Fifth Special Forces Brigade observed that the highest Russian political authorities had violated Article 1 of the Belarusian Constitution.
“According to this clause, the Republic of Belarus maintains supremacy and full authority over its own territory,” they wrote.
“It also enjoys independence over its domestic and foreign policy.”
They were also adamantly opposed to joining Putin in his war against Ukraine, which they referred to as a “friend of our state” and considered to do so as “the destruction of the sovereignty of Belarus.’
“To join Russia in its fight against Ukraine would be pure suicide.”
Russian and Belarusian tanks perform maneuvers at a firing range near Brest on the Polish border on February 19
Helicopters carry out training exercises during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus on February 19
Nevertheless, convoys of Russian missile defense systems were seen heading towards the Belarusian border with Poland, Belarusky Gayun said.
“There are about ten units in the column, among them communications vehicles based on KamAZs and dump trucks, some firing generators, and one flying the flag of the USSR” – which alarms the generals even more Belarusians.
“The vehicles are camouflage colored, with the identification mark ‘V’ on the doors.”
Exercises involving Russian and Belarusian troops have been extended until around July 15 or 16 at more than a dozen training bases in Belarus in a move described as “atypical”, according to reports.
“About 20 Russian pilots arrived in Baranavichy. … on a regular Moscow-Brest train,” the channel said.
“This is not the first report that the Russian army has started to arrive in Belarus again on ordinary passenger trains.
“There is a certain correlation between the arrival of the Russian army and an increase in… air training.”
Russia has already deployed in Belarus to attack Ukraine.
File photo of a Russian Pantsir C1 medium-range self-propelled surface-to-air missile system believed to be stationed at Prybytki Air Base in Belarus
File photo of an S-400 surface-to-air missile launcher similar to the anti-aircraft systems that Russia moved to Belarus
But Belarus also borders Poland and Lithuania and the new intensity could show that Vladimir Putin and his Minsk ally Alexander Lukashenko are strengthening defenses on the border with NATO.
Three S-300 air defense systems were seen moving on the Minsk-Brest highway, towards the border with Poland.
One autocrat came to the rescue of another in the summer of 2020 when large-scale protests erupted in Belarus following a fraudulent election that saw Lukashenko retain power.
Putin provided security forces, financial aid and even television presenters to broadcast government propaganda when the natives went on strike in protest.
The price to pay to save the Lukashenko regime from a democratic uprising now seems to be the sovereignty of Belarus, Putin in fact occupying the country with his army.
In Russia, in the Bryansk region, a bomb exploded on a railway track in the Bryansk region, Governor Alexander Bogomaz said.
This appears to be the latest in a series of sabotage attacks on railway lines in Russia.
The purpose of the unknown perpetrators appears to be to disrupt the use of trains to move troops and weapons.
Dozens of such attacks have been reported in recent weeks.
In Baranavichy, in the Brest region, near the Polish border, fighter pilots would train for rapid takeoffs and climbs.
Since June 16, training on Mi-8 helicopters has been underway.
“As a rule, these trainings take place twice a year, but in three weeks their annual rhythm has already been exceeded,” the channel said.
The moves of Putin’s forces come after NATO states agreed to boost their presence in countries bordering Russia.