The military exercise “Shield of the Union” has started in Russia. It is attended by 4 thousand Belarusian military personnel. Troops practice fighting with illegal armed formations and sabotage groups of the conventional enemy. But there is also a hidden part of the scenario.
Twelve thousand military men — 4 thousand of them are Belarusians, almost one thousand units of military equipment, 70 airplanes and helicopters: at the firing range Mulino near Nizhny Novgorod an active phase of operational exercises “Shield of the Union” has begun. It traditionally take place 2 years after the “West” maneuvers.
The scenario is also traditional. According to the head of the exercise, Deputy Defense Minister of Belarus Aleh Belakoneu, it’s “preventing destabilization in certain areas, fighting sabotage and intelligence groups, illegal armed groups, as well as implementing practical measures during the enemy’s massive missile and air strikes”.
Belarusians and Russians will beat guerrillas and saboteurs and practice a massive blow of enemy aircraft until Thursday. Practical goals are clear: the army trains according to plans. The political goals are to show the society that the so-called Union State of Russia and Belarus is doing something.
“Military cooperation is probably one of the most successful areas of cooperation, where the Union State is shown in some real way. Outside, we show that we are somehow reacting to the strengthening of NATO’s position in the east — in Poland and the Baltic States,” said BISS Director Piotr Rudkouski.
Why do the Belarusian military go as far as Nizhny Novgorod? One of the reasons, according to independent military observer Alyaksandr Alesin, is a hidden part of the scenario. Enemy guerrillas and saboteurs are not just defeated, they are used to penetrate into the territory of the conventional enemy.
“There is a part of the exercise, which is not usually shown in Belarus, it is an offensive using a large number of technical means: armored vehicles, missiles, MLRS and aircraft,” says Alesin.
There is also a political factor.
“We don’t want to scare nervous neighbors. They are all nervous now: the Balts, Poles and Ukrainians,” smiles Alesin.
Alyaksandr Alesin does not give any reasons for his nervousness: five years ago, the Russian military took off their chevrons, smeared signs on APCs, and seized Crimea. The Ukrainian soldiers were taken prisoner and they did not believe until the last moment that they were being pointed guns at by the same people with whom they had good relations. Then Russian personnel soldiers in the hybrid forces seized Donetsk and Luhansk. Hence the nervousness.
Yaraslau Stseshyk/IR belsat.eu