Russia Deploying Its Far-Eastern Units to Belarus
Over the last couple of months, information was being continuously released, on Russian and Belorussian military exercises, railway transport operations, and wheeled Russian military columns, moving between the potential theaters. Photographs and movie clips are circulated, depicting field deployments of armour, mechanized assets, or artillery. This is also the case for the Allied Resolve 2022 exercise, taking place in Belarus (Союзная решимость 2022).
Officially, the exercise is organized as a response to the worsening military and political situation globally, with growing tensions in Europe, especially close to the Western and Southern border of Belarus. These reasons may be surprising, as the authorities in Minsk are the body that is responsible for the crisis on the Polish-Belorussian border. It seems then that the exercise in question is another element of the Russian propaganda war against the NATO countries - also involving Belarus as an actor.
The exercise is to be organized in two stages. The first stage, already underway and scheduled to last until 9th February 2022, envisages that elements and assets of units involved would be deployed to the "threatened" regions. Security and defence schemes for important state and military infrastructure would be organized. Air defence activities, within the scope of joint regional Belorussian and Russian air defence systems, would be intensified. A readiness and capability test for the assets involved is also scheduled to happen. Belorussian-Russian combat training air defence center would participate in the above.
The main portion of the exercise is scheduled to happen between 10th and 20th February. During the exercise, the border protection would be reinforced, to prevent illegal infiltration by armed groups, and to seal off the arms, ammunition, and other assets delivery channels that could be used to destabilize the internal situation. Another scenario of the exercise would involve search and destroy activities targeting illegally armed groups and enemy recon/SOF units. All of those activities would be taking place in parallel to standard training.
Undoubtedly, the involvement of Russian military units from the Eastern Military District is the most interesting piece of news here. This is the most distant (geographically) military district located in Asia. Deployment of those units to Belarus would be another test for the Russian supply chain and logistics.
The exercise is to be taking place at the Hozha, Obuz-Lesnovsky, Osipoviche, Brest, and Domanovo ranges. Baranoviche airbase (where the 61st Airbase is stationed, Military Unit 54804), Lida airbase (home for the 116th Guards Assault Airbase, Military Unit 19764), Mochulishche Airbase (home for the 50th Mixed Airbase, Military Unit 06752), and Luninets Airbase would be involved.
The main objective of the operation would be to test the capacity the commands and armed forces have to carry out complex tasks in maintaining security within the Union State - Belarus. Objective as such is usually set before any joint Belorussian-Russian exercise. Given the number of troops and quantity of equipment involved, the exercise is not subject to notification as per the OSCE Vienna Document of 2011. The exercise is to be commanded by the General Staff of the Belorussian Armed Forces.
Russia announced that it would deploy some of its units to Belarus, including two S-400 SAM squadrons, and a Pantsir-S squadron. A squadron of Su-35 fighters would also be deployed to Belarus for the exercise. The first of the Russian railway transports arrived in Belarus on 18th January. Russia also announced a surprise alert for some of the units in the Eastern Military District, with a long-distance deployment. The said units are, most probably, headed to Belarus now.
The unannounced exercise fits well in the Russian propaganda narrative. Yet again, the operation is to demonstrate the alliance of some of the former members of the Soviet Union, along with the rapid deployment capability for designated units. The Russian Armed Forces, dispersed within the vast territory, are continuously getting ready to gather in the designated theater. This year's deployment of units from the Eastern Military District to Belarus would be a show of force of the Russian logistics. It is also to show that units from all military districts can be deployed to Belarus, close to the Polish border. The opportunity to seal off the Belorussian-Ukrainian border thanks to the Allied Resolve 2022 exercise may be worrying - should Russia decide to take adverse actions against Ukraine.