The Ministry of Defense of Russia and Zvezda TV channel continue to publish stories demonstrating various elements of combat training of Russian troops from the regional group of troops at the Belarusian training grounds. Ahead of the end of the two-month period of Russian troops stationed at the training grounds in Belarus, we decided to check out what they do at the training grounds, what kind of weapons they use, as well as to make predictions about their future use.
Infantry combat, "cleanup" of a village and concerts in the field
From December 1 to 10, the Russian Armed Forces in Belarus were mainly engaged in learning tactical shooting skills and practicing capture with a cleanup of a settlement. Reports from their training were not published daily, but once every few days – steadily.
December 1: Stories by Zvezda and the Russian Ministry of Defense dated December 1 show training with a motorized rifle platoon. It showed how servicemen were trained in tactical shooting and teamwork. The weapons and equipment included one BMP-2, small arms (assault rifles, machine guns) and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG).
A soldier of the Russian Armed Forces firing a bazooka at a training ground in Belarus / Ministry of Defense of Russia
«Servicemen of the Western Military District practice the tactics of modern infantry combat at the Belarusian training grounds. They study all its nuances. They don’t spare any ammunition here,» a story on Zvezda TV channel dated December 1, 2022 said.
December 5: «Performers of the Central House of the Russian Army gave four concerts, three of which took place in the field – in places of deployment of Russian servicemen,» the Ministry of Defense of Russia reported that day.
A concert for the Russian military in the field / Ministry of Defense of Russia
The photos published by the Russian Ministry of Defense show the concert organized in the field specifically for the military.
December 6: «Russian servicemen practiced a «cleanup» of a settlement at a training ground in Belarus. Under cover of heavy equipment fire, soldiers of the Western Military District blocked possible escape routes and went forward, «scouring» the settlement meter by meter.»
The video shows actions of a motorized rifle platoon to capture and clean up a settlement. The weapons and equipment included four BMP-2, a T-80 tank, as well as small arms (assault rifles and machine guns).
December 8: «Three motorized rifle companies show the level of combat readiness. Each, according to a given legend, works as an independent separate unit.»
The video shows actions of motorized rifle units in capturing and cleaning up a settlement, as well as in defense. Issues of combat coordination at the company level were practiced. Battalion tactical exercises were announced. The weapons and equipment included:
- Five BMP-2,
- 120-mm 2S12 Sani mortar,
- Small arms (assault rifles, machine guns and RPG).
In addition, a flag of the unrecognized DNR was seen on one of the BMPs.
December 9: «Soldiers of units of the Western Military District performed combat firing with 152-mm Giatsint-B guns at a training ground in Belorussia. The crews practice firing day and night, correctly adjusting fire and bringing their actions to the level of automatism.»
Firing with 152-mm Giatsint-B gun / Ministry of Defense of Russia
The photo shows firing by an artillery battery at daytime and at night. The weapons and equipment included at least two 152-mm Giatsint-B guns.
December 12: «Soldiers of the motorized riffle units of the Western Military District are practicing an assault on fortified areas. With the help of armored equipment, they are blocking a conditional enemy in a settlement and, acting in small groups, are engaged in training street battles.»
The video of the Russian Ministry of Defense shows actions of a motorized rifle company, which, supported by a tank, performs the capture and cleanup of a settlement. The weapons and equipment included two BMP-2, a T-80 tank, as well as small arms (assault rifles and machine guns).
December 14: «Explosive work is being practiced by soldiers of the engineering troops. If necessary, well-trained engineer crews will work perfectly in an offensive.»
The video shows engineering units practicing the undermining of fortifications, as well as setting up a bridge crossing. The equipment included:
- Two UR-77 Meteorit demining systems,
- One set of TMM-3M2 heavy mechanized bridge on KamAZ chassis
What conclusions can be made?
We can’t be sure about the training of the Russian military based only on propaganda stories. In reality, there may be a special demonstrative combat training organized for the media. At the same time, reports about exercises at the Belarusian training grounds, where the Russian military are deployed, continue to be received regularly (1, 2, 3). This indicates that the «mobiks» are indeed engaged in some kind of combat training.
In general, we can note that the Russian military continues systematic training of its personnel, conducts combat coordination at the company level, and has announced plans for combat coordination at the battalion level.
We remind that the Russian «mobiks» began to arrive in Belarus almost 2 months ago. It was officially reported that the period of military training of the mobilized soldiers of the Russian Armed Forces could last from 1 to 2 months. In addition to the time given for combat training, the most important thing is who, how, and what trains the servicemen, as well as the available material and technical base for the training. If the training process was organized properly, the time that the «mobiks» spend at the training grounds in Belarus would be enough to prepare the personnel before they take part in combat operations. However, the Russian military is still stationed at the training grounds. This is an indication of pursuing goals for the deployment of the RGT other than training.
As for the scenarios for further use of the Russian RGT contingent deployed in Belarus, according to the available information, two scenarios are the most realistic at the moment:
Scenario 1. February 24 2.0. The beginning of a ground operation from the territory of Belarus by the Russian Armed Forces against Ukraine with/without the support of the Belarusian Armed Forces
At the moment, the implementation of this scenario is indicated by the following:
- Redeployment of units of the Russian Armed Forces closer to the border with Ukraine (formally started, but on a small scale);
- Intensified redeployment of Russian troops to Belarus by rail (it is happening, but on a small scale; echelons with military equipment continue to arrive in Belarus – 1, 2, 3).
In this case, it is also necessary to take into account such factors as the insufficient (for now) number of Russian soldiers for a new offensive, the engineering equipment of the Ukrainian border – mines, blown-up bridges, etc. (it will be much more difficult to storm the border than in February 2022).
Scenario 2. “The RGT stays with us.” The RGT remains in Belarus for an indefinite period of time
At the moment, the implementation of this scenario is indicated by the following:
- Personnel and equipment are still concentrated at training grounds of the Belarusian Armed Forces, no movements to the border with Ukraine (+/- remains the same; echelons with military equipment continue to arrive, but in small numbers);
- There are still signs of activity of the «mobiks» in towns located near the training grounds (Yes, the «mobiks» are spotted in stores, cafes/restaurants almost every day – 1, 2, 3);
- Lack of new transportations of personnel and/or military equipment (+/-: equipment arrives in small batches. There are no large transportations of personnel, as indicated by the size of field camps at training grounds in Belarus).
In general, it should be noted that the prospects for the deployment of the Russian RGT contingent will be influenced, among other things, by the situation on the frontline. There may be a situation when Russia will need to bring in all of its available resources. In such a case, the «mobiks» can be quickly redeployed to the frontline. Especially since the Russian mobilized in Belarus is a combat reserve of the Russian Armed Forces.
So far, amid all the anti-Western/anti-Ukrainian rhetoric of the Lukashenka regime, with the aggressive «Western military» about to attack Belarus, the withdrawal of the Russian RGT contingent from Belarus would look strange. The threat is not decreasing, but the troops are being withdrawn?
After all, the RGT was deployed to minimize the risks of an attack by the «Western military» against Belarus. That is why today the Russian contingent of the RGT will most likely continue to be deployed at the Belarusian training grounds, creating additional tension for the leadership of Ukraine. And this state of affairs will remain the same for the next few months.
Training of the mobilized Russian soldiers at the Belarusian training grounds / Ministry of Defense of Russia
In addition to the described above, we can also mention two other possible scenarios for the prospects of the RGT’s presence in Belarus:
- Belarus is a permanent training base for the Russian military. In this scenario, the mobilized Russian soldiers will arrive at the Belarusian training grounds, undergo a course of military training, and leave for the combat zone. And the new ones will arrive instead.
- Training of the «mobiks» in Belarus is a one-time event for the Russian Armed Forces. The mobilized who arrived in October go to the combat zone after completing the military training course, and no new «mobiks» will arrive for the training.
However, the information currently available does not allow us to conclude that these scenarios are being implemented.
We should note that all of the estimates given above can change (also dramatically) as the situation develops and new information becomes available.
We should also remind that the decision to deploy the regional group of the Russian and Belarusian troops was made due to the escalation of the situation on the western border of the Union State. Information about the arrival of the first echelon with the Russian military in Belarus was published on October 15.