На русском языке:
Мнение. Егор Лебедок о военно-политической обстановке в регионе, на фоне которой проходят учения «Запад-2021»
На беларускай мове: Меркаванне. Ягор Лебядок пра ваенна-палітычнае становішча ў рэгіёне, на фоне якога праходзяць вучэнні «Захад-2021»
Columnist Yahor Lebiadok in his Telegram channel describes in detail the politico-military situation in which the West-2021 exercise is held. Here are his words unchanged.
The West-2021 exercise is taking place amid much greater tension in the region than the West-2017. In 2017, the main factors affecting the politico-military situation around Belarus were the downward phase of the Russia-Ukraine military conflict, and the preservation of Belarus’ neutrality in the conflict and the provision of a negotiating platform for the conflicting parties.
In March of this year, Russia, combining the achievement of a number of political goals with the development of a military operation, concentrated a serious military contingent at the border with Ukraine, with its subsequent withdrawal.
Since August 2020, Lukashenka and a group of people organized by him have been carrying out forceful, including selective use of legislation, suppression of Belarusian citizens (placement into institutions of the criminal correctional system, expulsion from the country, and other methods) advocating the restoration of the rule of law in Belarus and the resignation of Lukashenka. For the population of Belarus, the suppression of force (de facto, repression) is presented as the prevention of a color revolution prepared and carried out by Western countries (depending on the current situation — Poland, Lithuania, Germany, the Czech Republic). A justification for the fight against the «color revolution» was the legal destruction of a large number of non-profit organizations in Belarus.
Since November 2020, the EU and the United States have begun to introduce and are still considering the possibility of expanding economic sanctions against the Lukashenka regime.
In April 2021, Lukashenka said that the United States was preparing his murder.
In May, under the pretext of receiving a letter about mining, Belarus landed a Ryanair plane at the airport, where R. Pratasevich was. Later, there was a ban for Belarusian airlines to fly over the territory of the EU, which Ukraine joined, as well as for EU and Ukrainian airlines to fly over the territory of Belarus.
From May-June 2021, an organized mass sending of migrants from Iraq, Syria and other countries to Lithuania through the illegal crossing of the Belarus-Lithuania border began through Belarus. On June 28, 2021, «in connection with the unprecedented restrictive measures imposed by the European Union … Belarus begins the implementation of the procedure for suspending the Readmission Agreement with the EU». Later, the flows were extended to Poland and Latvia. These countries perceived the flows of illegally getting into their territory from Belarus migrants as a «hybrid attack» of Lukashenka in order to lift the sanctions imposed earlier by the European Union against the Lukashenka regime.
On July 2, 2021, Lukashenka claimed to complete a large-scale anti-terrorist operation conducted by the Belarusian special services and security forces (among other things, Lukashenka said that someone was going to blow up the 43rd communication center of the Russian Navy «Vileika» — a Russian military facility on the territory of Belarus). Lukashenka also said that after the completion of the anti-terrorist operation conducted in the country, he would make claims to the German Chancellor and «someone from the leadership» of Germany.
In May-August 2021, at the initiative of the Belarusian party, the Embassies of a number of countries in Belarus, in particular Latvia, Lithuania and the United States, were reduced.
After the response of Lithuania, and then Poland, to the illegal crossing of the border by migrants from Belarus, intensive work began in the information work of the state media to label the Lithuanian government as «fascists». In general, since the spring of 2021, pro-Lukashenka media and bloggers are expanding the theme of the association of the «collective West» with the «fascists». The history of the Second World War is taken as the basis of information work, the parallels of fascists are transferred both to Lukashenka’s opponents inside Belarus and external actors. On June 7, Lukashenka signed a decree establishing a «Day of national unity» on September 17, the day of the entry of Soviet troops into Poland of that time in 1939. The active phase of the West-2021 exercise ends on September 16.
Since September 2, Poland has introduced a state of emergency in a number of regions bordering Belarus in connection with the migration crisis and the West-2021 exercises. Also amid the migration crisis, since September 10, the Lithuanian military has the right to stop and inspect vehicles, as well as goods and people in them. In addition, they are allowed to use special means.
On September 9, Russian S-400 in Grodno and Su-30SM in Baranovichi were on alert. On the same day, Lukashenka and Putin approved programs for further integration within the framework of bilateral integration, during the meeting, as Vladimir Putin said, they discussed the formation of a single defense space of the two countries and security issues.
You can see some of the exercises held in September 2021 on the map.
Despite a more tense situation, the number of media accredited to cover the exercise is significantly less than at the West-2017 exercise. About 60 media representatives, including 23 foreign ones, have been accredited to observe and cover the active phase of the West-2021 strategic training sessions in the media. In 2017, the exercises were covered by about 400 media representatives, including about 270 foreign ones.
General characteristics of the exercise "West-2021"
Name: Joint strategic exercise of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus «West 2021».
Leaders of the exercise: from the Republic of Belarus — Major General V.V. Gulevich — Chief of the General Staff — First Deputy Minister of Defense of the Republic of Belarus, from the Russian Federation — Army General V.V. Gerasimov -Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation — First Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation. On the territory of the Republic of Belarus, the Russian military delegation is headed by Lieutenant-General Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, the Deputy Minister of Defense of Russia, and he has been involved in the preparation of exercises on the territory of Belarus since the initial period of reconnaissance.
The theme of the exercise: «The use of groups of troops (forces) in the interests of ensuring the military security of the Union State».
The exercise is planned. The defensive nature of the exercise is declared.
Exercisse goals (for the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus): increasing the level of readiness and ability of the military command bodies of the troops of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation to joint actions in solving the tasks of ensuring the military security of the Union State, their interaction and field training during the conduct of hostilities; development and testing of a variant of joint actions in the course of repelling aggression against the Union State in the interests of preserving the territorial integrity of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation; obtaining practice by commanders and staffs in the management of troops in the course of repelling aggression against the Union State.
Exercise tasks (for the Armed Forces of Belarus): creation of a group of troops (forces) in a short time on the basis of combat-ready military formations in peacetime, with a high level of mobility and the ability to conduct autonomous operations; control of the actions of aviation and air defense forces in the course of repelling strikes of air attack means of a conditional enemy; approbation of new methods of conducting defensive actions and landing of tactical airborne assaults.
The exercise is held on the territory of the Republic of Belarus, the Russian Federation, the Baltic Sea.
Active phase of the exercise: from September 10 to 16, 2021. At the end of the exercise, until September 30, personnel, weapons, military and special equipment of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus will return to the points of permanent deployment, military units and subdivisions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will leave the territory of the Republic of Belarus. The return of Russian military authorities and troops from Russian training grounds to permanent deployment points after participation in the exercise is planned until mid-October 2021.
The exercises is planned to be held in two stages: 1 — management of groups of troops during the conduct of defensive hostilities (held on September 10-12); 2 — management of groups of troops during the completion of the defeat of the enemy and the restoration of the lost position (will be held on September 13-16).
The following are involved in the exercise:
from the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus:
- Belarusian part of the Joint Command of the Regional grouping of troops (forces);
- bodies of military management of associations, management of formations, military units and subdivisions of the Air Force and Air Defense Forces, special operations forces of the Armed Forces, operational commands, branches of troops, special troops, weapons and rear of the Armed Forces, territorial defense, other troops and military formations.
From the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (according to the Russian Ministry of Defense)
- Russian part of the Joint Command of the Regional grouping of troops (forces);
- troops of the Western Military District, part of the military command and control bodies of the Central Military District, Airborne Troops, long-range and military transport aviation, as well as formations and associations of the Baltic Fleet.
In total, up to 200 000 personnel, about 80 aircraft and helicopters, up to 760 units of military equipment, including 290 tanks, 240 guns, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars, as well as up to 15 ships take part in the West-2021 JSE (Joint Strategic Exercise) on the territory of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus (according to various estimates, from 60 to 100 thousand servicemen took part in the West 2017 exercises). Of these, on the territory of the Republic of Belarus, 12,800 servicemen (including about 2500 Russian servicemen and up to 50 Kazakhstani servicemen from the CSTO CRRF), up to 350 units of armored vehicles (including about 60 units of the Armed Forces of Belarus and about 70 tanks of the Russian Armed Forces), up to 110 units of artillery and MLRS (about 60 units of the Armed Forces of Belarus and about 50 units of the Russian Armed Forces), more than 30 aircraft and helicopters (up to 15 Armed Forces of Belarus and up to 20 Armed Forces of Russia). On the territory of the Russian Federation (Mulino), almost 400 servicemen and more than 30 units of military equipment of the Republic of Belarus (battalion tactical group of the 19th separate mechanized brigade) will be involved in the exercises.
The peculiarity of the West-2021 exercise is the involvement of third countries. Thus, units of the armed forces of Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia take part in joint practical actions on the territory of the training grounds of the Russian Federation (mainly Mulino). The armed forces of Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are represented at the exercise by operational groups of officers as part of the leadership headquarters. Representatives of the armed forces of China, Viet Nam and Myanmar participate as observers. From the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other friendly countries, about 2,000 servicemen take part in the West-2021 exercise.
To work out the active phase of the JSE West-2021 on the territory of Belarus will be involved: 230 combined arms training ground Obuz-Lesnovsky, the 174th training range of the Air Force and Air Defense Forces Domanovsky, the 210th aviation range Ruzhansky, the Brestsky training ground (as well as, according to the Ministry of Defense of Russia, the Chepelevo training ground). On the territory of the Russian Federation, the Khmelevka, Pravdinsky, Dobrovolsky, Kirillovsky, Strugi Krasnye, Dorogobuzh, Pogonovo, Mulino (aka Gorokhovetsky range), Volsky range will be involved.
However, this is not all the training ranges where the West-2021 exercises are held, since a number of joint exercises of the preparatory plan are held at other training ranges. As well as there are a number of exercises that are not formally included in the JSE West-2021, nevertheless they can be attributed to such.Thus, at the Sary-Shagan training range (Kazazstan), classes are held with the missile troops of the Republic of Belarus, namely the launches of MLRS Smerch, MC Tochka-U and MLRS Polonaise (in total, up to 100 units of equipment and more than 200 personnel will be involved in the control session). In Belarus, there are no ranges for launching missiles from these complexes. But naturally, the missile forces will be involved in operations with the participation of the Armed Forces of Belarus, probably, in the JSE West-2021 missile strikes are expected, but is carried out only at the command and staff level, and is practiced at the Sary-Shagan training range. As well as there are no testing ranges for testing missile launches of air defense systems in Belarus. The Belarusian military took part in the Joint Air Defense Exercises of the CIS Combat Commonwealth-2021 at the Russian training ground Ashuluk. Despite the fact that Russia did not declare Ashuluk as a training ground for the JSE West-2021, nevertheless, according to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, on September 12, air defense units of the Aerospace Forces and the Western Military District were relocated to the Ashuluk training ground within the framework of the West-2021 JSE.
At the Russian training range Pesochnoye there were tactical and special reconnaissance units of the Airborne Forces of Russia and the Special Operations Forces of Belarus (about 40 servicemen of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus and about 350 servicemen of the separate reconnaissance battalion of the Ivanovo Guards Airborne Formation).
In June, a joint special exercise was held at the Dretun training range with the electronic warfare forces of the regional grouping of troops (forces) of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation.The exercise was one of the stages of preparation for the joint strategic exercise of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation West-2021.
On August 25, Belarusian pilots within a joint special exercise with the forces and means of technical and logistical support of the Armed Forces of Belarus and logistics of the Armed Forces of Russia worked out the issues of landing on the airfield section of the road from 82 to 86 km of the M-4 Minsk-Mogilev highway. Landing was carried out by Su-25, Yak-130 and L-39.
On August 26, during a joint special exercise with the forces and means of technical and logistical support of the Armed Forces of Belarus and Russia, servicemen worked out the restoration of transport infrastructure facilities after an enemy air attack at the training center of the 30th separate railway brigade Lesishche. At the 2657th fuel base of the Armed Forces of Belarus, a mass fuel dispensing site was deployed, where military equipment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation was refueled — 16 units of equipment can be refueled simultaneously at a site with a capacity of more than 600 cubic meters per hour. The issuance of diesel fuel in the amount of 110 tons became possible due to the formation of a fuel reserve that arrived from Russia and was placed by the Belarusian military in storage areas. In parallel, at the 230th, Russian servicemen worked out the protection and defense of the mass fuel dispensing site, ensuring the safety of tanker drivers who participated in the loading process under the control of the host party.
It should be noted that in general, in terms of the geography of the training ranges on the territory of the Republic of Belarus, West-2021 became south-west of the West-2017 exercises (see infographics below).
The basis of the West-2021 exercises from the Armed Forces of Belarus are the troops of the Western Operational Command and the Special Operations Forces. From the North-Western Operational Command, only about 670 personnel and more than 30 units of weapons, military and special equipment (including 21 tanks and 11 armored combat vehicles) take part in the West-2021 JSE, and 400 people from the 19th separate mechanized brigade (part of the NWOC) take part in the West-2021 JSE on the territory of Russia.
The idea of the exercise
According to V. Gulevich, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus, when determining the plan, modern approaches to the use of troops (forces) based on the experience of armed conflicts of recent years, operational training activities, as well as forms and methods of using troops developed in the armed forces of Belarus and Russia are taken into account. The scenario of the emergence of a crisis situation of growing and emergence of a conflict associated with an increase in the activity of illegal armed groups, separatist and international terrorist organizations with external support is based on the emergence of a crisis situation associated with an increase in the activity of illegal armed groups. Within the plan, two conditional parties to the conflict are involved: the Northern, including the Union State of the Republic of Polesye and the Central Federation, on the other hand, the Western — a coalition of interested states Of Nyaris, Pomorie, the Polar Republic, international terrorist organizations.
At exercises of the armed forces, they always give conditional names, but such that it are not particularly difficult to understand which countries are meant (as an example, in the figure below the map of communication exercises, on which the names of other conditional countries are presented, it is easy to guess what is behind them).
Nyaris, presumably, is Lithuania, Pomorie is Poland. The Polar Republic is the name of the forces capable of operating in the north. At the same time, despite the involvement of the troops of the Northern Fleet (although the Ministry of Defense did not initially report on its participation, nevertheless, the marines of the NF landed in the Kaliningrad region as part of the exercises), the polar one can mean not only the terrain, but also political landmarks. Attention is drawn to the conditional name of Belarus the Republic of Polesie, i.e. connection with the south of Belarus. Although Ukraine is marked on open maps as «Neutral».
According to the plan, the main reason for the aggravation of the situation is the desire of the «Westerners» to destabilize the situation on the territory of the Republic of Polesie and to achieve a deterioration in relations between the subjects of the Union State, to change the political leadership in the Republic of Polesie and to annex its western regions to The Nyaris. That is, the plan reflects what Lukashenka broadcast in August 2020 with one caveat, that he stated Poland’s desire to annex Grodno. Further, according to the plan, having failed to achieve their goals and failing to initiate an internal armed conflict in the Republic of Polesie, the «Westerners» unleashed aggression against the Union State. Ensuring the protection of the national interests of the Republic of Polesie and the Central Federation is provided for by the implementation of a set of measures to create conditions for the cessation of hostilities on conditions that meet the interests of the Union State, including the use of the RGV (S) adequately to the level of military threat. Despite the fact that the exercises are declared as defensive, their second stage is actually a (counter-)offensive operation. Assessing the historical experience of Russia’s military operations, we can say that its military actions never stop at the border of restoring territorial integrity (as the final of the second stage of the exercises suggests), in other words, it moves to the territory of the enemy, which gives it the opportunity to «cease hostilities on terms that meet the interests» of Russia.
In general, the West-2021 exercises with the inclusion of the Baltic and Northern Fleets (and the fleet is not just ships, but also a landing force, and missile strikes, and air defense, the latter by the way were practiced in the Kaliningrad region), as well as exercises in the South-Eastern Military District in March, the exercises with the Black Sea Fleet and the Aerospace Forces are a time-dispersed development of a comprehensive confrontation with NATO troops (+ Ukraine) in the Eastern European theater with access to the enemy’s territory from defense or with the application of preemptive rapid strikes.
On the territory of Belarus, the tasks of crossing water barriers by units of both the Belarusian Armed Forces and the Russian ones are actively being worked out. Let me remind you that the Brest region borders with Poland along the Bug, and the Gomel region along the Dnieper with Ukraine. The tasks of forcing are also important for the covert movement of troops, also in the conditions of the enemy’s conduct of space and other reconnaissance, which is also included in the tasks being worked out.
The tasks of restoring the transport infrastructure after strikes by enemy air attack weapons are being worked out (the Union State program for the technical cover of railways has been actively financed from the SG budget for the past few years). The task is quite urgent in connection with the expected infliction of Cruise Missile Airstrike by the enemy.
The work out of tactical landings is of twofold importance. In defense, it is a way of liberating occupied settlements, for example, from IAF. In the offensive, it is a method of quickly capturing the city, its leadership, key infrastructure facilities with paralysis of the system of deployment of territorial troops and, in general, the organization of the defense of the city before the approach of the main troops. On the territory of Belarus, the tasks of maneuver defense are being worked out, part of which is the conduct of ambush attacking actions on the units of the advancing enemy. In an offensive under the cover of air defense and strike aviation, taking into account the conduct of reconnaissance of all kinds (one of the tasks being worked out), this can also be used to defeat the enemy, who has moved to liberate a city or other object occupied by a tactical landing.
At the West-2021 JSE, the use of units of territorial troops and the expansion of their tasks are being actively worked out. Although Ukraine is classified as «Neutral» within the exercises, the military-political situation is changing and the conflict between Belarus and Ukraine is growing. Based on the assessment of Lukashenka’s statements, a number of military articles on possible options and methods of confrontation between the two countries, it is unlikely that a large-scale offensive by Ukraine is expected, but it is highly expected at the exacerbated stage of the conflict (including within the conflict between the Union State — NATO countries) the deployment of airborne and sabotage and other forces to Belarus, which requires additional resources to combat them. Such resources are the territorial troops, which can be supported by the special forces (by analogy with the 2015 exercises near Yelsk). Also, the conflict with Ukraine detaches an additional direction of missile and air strikes on Belarus (not necessarily by Ukraine itself, perhaps, for example, by strikes from the Black Sea by the NATO bloc), which also requires a change in approaches to the organization of air defense of Belarus.
New Belarusian weapons used at the exercises
During the exercise of the CIS Air Defense Forces at the Ashuluk training range (the Russian Federation), pilots of the Baranovichi air base on multifunctional Su-30SM fighters conducted successful launches of four R-27 medium-range guided missiles at four targets. All targets were successfully hit. These are the first combat launches of the R-27, which were repaired at one of the enterprises of the scientific and technical cluster Ustye near Orsha (most likely, we are talking about the enterprise of JSC Kidma Tech).
Missile launches were also made by the S-300PS, which underwent major repairs at the 2566th plant for the repair of electronic weapons. By the way, according to D. Panin, the commander of the 1st anti-aircraft missile regiment of the Armed Forces of Belarus, only last year the regiment ran out of missiles and targets that were developed in the Soviet Union and from this year work begins on modern and promising missiles and targets that fully have the characteristics of modern means of air attack.
During the same exercises, three radar stations manufactured by KB Radar were successfully tested at the Ashuluk test site:
- Vostok-3D mobile three-axis dual-band radar complex;
- mobile radar complex for detecting low-altitude targets with a ring phased antenna array Rosa-RB-M;
- Rodnik small target detection radar.
During the joint special exercise with the electronic warfare forces of the regional grouping of troops (forces) of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation, samples of weapons, military and special equipment that have recently entered service were widely used at the Dretun training range. There are the mobile complex of radio monitoring and radio suppression of VHF communication «Shield-MDM» (developed by ARB), the automated jamming station R-934UM2 (JSC «KB Radar») among them.
On February 28, 2021, Dmitry Pantus, Chairman of the Governmental Military-Industrial Committee, said that in the near future the next stage of tests of its own missile for the Polonaise complex with a range of up to 300 km would take place on the territory of a foreign state. These days, launches of Polonaise multiple rocket launcher are taking place on the territory of Kazakhstan, and perhaps a new missile will be tested.
During the West-2021 JSE, the capabilities of new fire control systems and electromagnetic protection systems for armored vehicles against anti-tank mines with non-contact magnetic fuses are also being tested.
Fears about the exercise West-2021
The main fear that has been circulating permanently since the West-2017 exercises is that Russian troops will remain on the territory of Belarus. This is highly unlikely. Russia has achieved the expansion of its military presence in Belarus by putting Russian S-400 complexes on combat duty in Grodno, as well as the deployment of Russian aircraft with pilots at Baranovichi air base (the aircraft also took up combat duty). There is progress in signing integration cards, that is, it makes no sense for Russia to escalate the situation even more, at least in the next couple of months.
It should be noted that at the Belarusian-Russian exercises Slavic Brotherhood 2020 on the territory of Belarus, the use of Strategic Aviation of Russia capable of carrying nuclear weapons was practiced, as well as the landing on the Brest training ground of a battalion tactical group from the Ivanovo formation of the Russian Airborne Forces, which flew from the place of permanent deployment in the Russian Federation. In this respect, JSE West 2021 is a quieter exercise. And the Russian paratroopers did not stay in Belarus then, despite the active political confrontation between the EU and Lukashenka, as well as amid troop movements that Lukashenka started at that time.
Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, in his recent statement recalling the West-2017 exercise, said that at that time Russia deployed from 60 to 70 thousand troops, but stated only 12,700 who participated in the exercises on the territory of Belarus. This gave rise to a number of rumors that there were then and will be many more Russian soldiers on the territory of Belarus than declared. But the fact is that Russia did not declare the total number of participants in the West-2017 exercise (most of which took place on the territory of the Russian Federation), and the Secretary General spoke about this undeclared excess, and not about the excess on the territory of Belarus. The same year, Russia directly reported the total number of participants — about 200 thousand military personnel, while there are only 12,800 on the territory of Belarus.
In recent months, near the western borders of Belarus, NATO aircraft have been conducting active reconnaissance, many times higher than the level of 2017. Near the borders of Belarus and the Kaliningrad region, S100D Argus, S102B Korpen (Swedish Air Force), RC-12X Guardrail, E-8C JSTARS, RC-135U Combat Sent, RC-135W Rivet Joint, Bombardier Challenger 650 ARTEMIS, RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV (USA), RC-135W Rivet Joint (UK), M28 Bryza-1R (Poland) periodically conduct reconnaissance.
Therefore, the «transparency» of exercises for NATO, also in relation to the number of Russian troops on our territory, is better than it was before.
By the way, NATO air reconnaissance is being worked out at West-2021 JSE too, see the photo below.
The risk of provocations remains within two weeks after the end of the West-2021 JSE. This risk is increased by both the crisis with illegal migrants and Lukashenka’s policy. And in the direction of Lithuania,Poland and Ukraine. On September 12, he said: «You see how they behave. Therefore, we cannot relax, given the experience of 1941, when we all calmed down, calmed everyone down «do not respond to provocations and so on» and then received a resounding blow and practically lost Belarus in a couple of months. History teaches a lot. We want to be prepared in advance, and the essence of this is modern exercises».
На русском языке:
Мнение. Егор Лебедок о военно-политической обстановке в регионе, на фоне которой проходят учения «Запад-2021»
На беларускай мове: Меркаванне. Ягор Лебядок пра ваенна-палітычнае становішча ў рэгіёне, на фоне якога праходзяць вучэнні «Захад-2021»