An hour to make a decision and a couple more to start the transfer of a mixed peacekeeping contingent to Alma-Ata, which includes air assault units from Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. We all already know the result – an attempt by external forces to destabilize the situation in a neighboring state by force was nipped in the bud, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev said on the second day after the introduction of units of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
The scenario of such assistance within the framework of allied obligations, which seemed very ephemeral for the past three decades, has worked. Thus, the last doubts were erased that this could be done on a bilateral basis as well. Literally immediately after the return of the peacekeepers from the “hot spot”, the Russian and Belarusian military men begin a joint operation – the exercises “Allied Resolve – 2022”.
And from whom is the Union of Russia and Belarus going to defend itself? The question, in principle, is rhetorical – from the collective West. Against the backdrop of a month-long accusations against the Russian Federation about the invasion of Ukraine, the rejection of Russian proposals for security guarantees, the lack of promises of NATO non-expansion to the countries of the post-Soviet space, our “partners” continue to chant on the topic of containing Russia. And at the same time, they do not leave torture to solve the issue of “independence of Belarus.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby insists that Russia is only looking for “an excuse to invade Ukraine.” In confirmation of this, the New York Times reported that, they say, Moscow has already taken out almost 50 people from its consulates in Kiev and Lvov. US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told the British Financial Times that in the event of war, Washington has already developed 18 scenarios for repelling or fending off a “Russian invasion.” And American President Joe Biden himself talks about allowing “a minor Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in a conversation with reporters, only drew attention to the fact that “statements with threats against Russia and a warning that Russia will have to pay a heavy price for some hypothetical actions are heard daily. The West daily from the average expert level to the highest level, the level of the head of state, repeats this and repeats.”
Meanwhile, NATO is planning a massive Cold Response 2022 exercise in the Norwegian Sea and in Norway itself. They are expected to take place in March-April and will be attended by about 28 member states of the bloc and partner countries, with a total of about 40,000 people involved. In addition, it is reported that the North Atlantic Alliance is ready to increase its contingent in the Baltics by 5,000 people. And the United States and Great Britain continue to actively supply weapons systems to Ukraine.
I think that in such a situation it is impossible not to react. It’s like with gopniks in the alley: save – you lose. To demonstrate determination to defend their interests, even during the negotiations in Geneva and consultations with NATO and the EU on global security issues, large-scale military exercises began at the Russian training grounds of the Southern and Far Eastern districts. In the first case, battalion tactical groups and units of the coastal troops of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla trained from Volgograd, Chechnya, Dagestan to the Crimea. In the second, as part of a “surprise check,” troops were raised from Vladivostok to the Kuriles. The latter even deployed mobile anti-ship complexes “Bastion” and deployed “flying tanks” T-80BVM.
The tank army of the Western Military District (ZVO) also entered the training battle on the territory of five regions: Moscow, Ivanovo, Smolensk and Nizhny Novgorod regions.
Major General Oleg Voinov, head of the Department of International Military Cooperation of the Ministry of Defense of Belarus, bluntly noted that “Allied Resolve – 2022” is a planned test of the reaction forces of the Union State “against the background of the aggravation of the military-political situation in the world, the continuing growth of tension in Europe, including near the western and southern borders of Belarus”.
Meanwhile, commenting on the Kazakh events, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko proudly noted that it took him only an hour to develop a coordinated plan for the operation of the Collective Security Treaty Organization in Kazakhstan together with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to him, “the whole operation, down to the details” was planned by him and his Russian colleague. “A plan was outlined. And the ministries of defense, under the leadership of their heads Sergei Shoigu and Viktor Khrenin, detailed the plan of the two presidents at the general staffs, and in a few hours the first planes took off,” Alexander Lukashenko said, assuring that everything was done “quickly and decisively “.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, during the joint exercises, measures will be taken to strengthen the protection of the state border to prevent the penetration of armed groups of militants, to block the channels for the delivery of weapons and ammunition, as well as to search for, block, and destroy illegal armed formations and sabotage and reconnaissance groups of the enemy.
The Russian Armed Forces are planning to transfer two S-400 anti-aircraft missile divisions, an anti-aircraft missile and gun division “Pantsir-S” and 12 Su-35S aircraft to the territory of Belarus. All these tools are interfaced with automated control systems deployed on the territory of Belarus. Thanks to this, the troops, apparently, intend to work out scenarios for repelling air raids by a potential enemy and then, as was the case in the framework of the West-2021 joint strategic exercises, go on the offensive.
According to official information, in 2021, Russian-Belarusian exercises were simultaneously held at 14 military training grounds. From the Russian side: Kirillovsky, Strugi Krasnye, Mulino, Pogonovo, Khmelevka, Pravdinsky, Dobrovolsky, Dorogobuzh and Volsky. From Belarusian: Obuz-Lesnovsky, Brest, Chepelevo, Domanovsky and Ruzhansky. All this represents a front more than 2,000 km wide, stretching from Kaliningrad to Voronezh and Nizhny Novgorod regions. Approximately 200 thousand military personnel, 15 ships, over 80 aircraft and helicopters, as well as more than 290 tanks, 240 guns, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars were involved in its support. For comparison, Kazakhstan was defended by just a little less than 4 thousand military personnel and a couple of hundred units of military equipment. In the Allied Resolve 2022 exercises, there will also be significantly fewer forces and means.
“The number of military personnel and equipment involved in exercises that fall under the scope of the Vienna Document 2011 does not exceed the parameters determined by it, which are subject to notification,” the Ministry of Defense specified. Nevertheless, the holding of this event, I think, will find its response on the western borders of the Union State.
Nuances of interaction
We should not forget that President Alexander Lukashenko is not very popular in the West – he is perceived as an autocrat. The neighbors do not like the fact that he is defending the issues of the global independence of Belarus. Nevertheless, Minsk is ready for joint military exercises with the Russian Federation, speaks out against the deployment of American nuclear weapons and their carriers in Poland, and at the same time is ready to accept Russian nuclear weapons on its territory (as it turned out, after the collapse of the USSR, Belarus retained all of the Soviet infrastructure for its deployment ).
In an interview with one of the Russian news agencies, the Belarusian leader recalled how he once argued with Russian leader Boris Yeltsin: “He demanded that these sites should be blown up, because the West was putting pressure, the Americans were putting pressure on him, he was putting pressure on me. I said no. But when the pressure was extreme, so you know, I can prove and show it, we blew up one site, it was in the forest, the sites were not just 10 cm there, it was a colossal territory. mines, we have ground mines, and they stood completely in such closed storage facilities – I kept it all. The Americans constantly asked me questions, the Westerners – why? I still have not answered these questions. All the sites on which the Topols stood, except for one, completely preserved and still ready for use”,Alexander Lukashenko emphasized.
There are other, even more controversial points. For example, after the collapse of the USSR and the destruction of the long-range radar warning station of the early warning system in Skrunda in the Baltic States, the unfinished Volga radar station in Belarusian Baranovichi became of particular relevance. It was then promptly completed and put into operation. Minsk even agreed to transfer land and real estate, which is part of the facility’s infrastructure, for free use. Now the radar station is an outpost of the Russian A-135 Amur missile defense system ., which is designed to protect Moscow and the Central Industrial Region of Russia. With the help of this radar, ballistic missiles, space objects are detected and the patrol areas of NATO countries’ submarines in the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea are monitored.
In addition, the 43rd communication center of the Navy, very important for the Navy, near the regional center of Vileyka, was left behind by Russia, equipped with the Antey radio station and providing communication with submarines in the oceans. The station has been operating in the Minsk region since January 1964 and communicates on ultra-long waves of the Main Staff of the Russian Navy with nuclear submarines that are on combat duty in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Also, its functions include electronic intelligence and electronic warfare.
True, Alexander Lukashenko does not even want to hear about the creation of a Russian air base on the territory of the country, speaking of this as a loss of sovereignty. Although in his mouth everything sounds somewhat different: “For the Russian Federation now it makes no sense to spend money and create military bases on the territory of the republic.”
“I would be interested if some serious rocket launchers were placed here, but they cannot be brought directly to the theater of operations, right into the NATO garden, because they will be fired from the most conventional weapons, Grads, and some other then mortars and so on. And there is no need for missiles against them. Therefore, Russia will never move nuclear warheads here, they will be directly under fire from the territory of Poland and Lithuania, “he explained in an interview.
But with all this, Lukashenka allows joint patrols with Russian Tu-160 strategic missile carriers of the borders of Belarus and the European Union; and also in the event of a serious conflict with NATO, Belarus will be able to take full advantage of not only Russian military assistance, but also military infrastructure. “If necessary, Belarus will turn into a single base of Belarus and Russia. A military base. In order to counter your aggression, if you suddenly decide to do so, or individual neighboring states. You must clearly understand this,” Alexander Lukashenko told CNN reporters.
However, in the military alliance of Russia and Belarus there is no single military vertical – that is, a common command and control of the armies. In the same NATO, such a structure exists – the troops of the alliance are subordinate to the Supreme Commander of the Joint Armed Forces in Europe. This post is currently held by US Air Force General Todd Walters. In this regard, in my opinion, Lukashenka’s words that, against the backdrop of the crisis in Kazakhstan, it took him an hour to discuss the details with Vladimir Putin, and only then unfold the scenario of actions, are indicative.
At the same time, the Russian General – Commander of the Airborne Forces Andrei Serdyukov was appointed commander of the peacekeeping force grouping. Perhaps because Moscow has allocated 3 thousand people, and Minsk – 500 people, Ashgabat and Yerevan – 200 people each. Who will command the united group of troops in the event of aggression against the Union State is still seemingly unclear. Although few people call into question his state affiliation.