In Wednesday’s phone conversation, the chiefs of the General Staffs of Belarus and Russia – Alyaksandr Valfovich and Valery Gerasimov – have raised the topics of military cooperation between the two countries and preparations for maneuvers.
“The parties discussed the current state of bilateral military cooperation, including preparations for the joint Belarusian-Russian-Serbian exercise Slavic Brotherhood-2020 which is to take place in the territory of Belarus, as well as the issue of strategic command and staff drills Caucasus-2020,” the Belarusian Defense Ministry reports.
Caucasus-2020, in which Russia is set to engage soldiers from the CSTO member states and even some countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, is scheduled for the autumn of 2020.
The talk took place amid growing tension in Belarus.For over three weeks, post-election protests have been underway in the country; the major demands of Belarusians are Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s resignation; holding a free and fair election; releasing political prisoners; putting an end to police violence; state-run TV stations’ providing people with unbiased and reliable information.
On August 28-31, the Belarusian military held integration tactical maneuvers in Hrodna region. Earlier, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka ordered top brass to reinforce troops in Hrodna direction (it is the western part of the country, closer to the Belarusian-EU border), referring to the alleged threat of aggression from NATO countries, including Poland and Lithuania. In his opinion, Western countries, especially Poland, are dreaming of occupying the region.
In mid August, Lukashenka said that Russia would lend assistance if Belarus asked for providing security in the event of ‘external military threats’.