RUSSIA MONITOR

Data: 13 October 2019

Belarus’s Lukashenko Criticizes NATO over Joint Russian-Belarusian Drills

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko is seeking a convenient justification for having carried out a series of military drills altogether with Russia. In his rhetoric, the Belarusian leader displays them as a response to extensive NATO exercise to be held in Poland and the Baltic states. This may stand out as his tactical trick at a time while talks on Minsk’s degree of integration with Russia are still underway. Lukashenko delivered a speech at a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States just a few days after the kick-off of the Combat Brotherhood war games with the participation of troops of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Russian-Belarusian joint exercise is scheduled to take place later in October in the Brest region close to Polish border.

SOURCE: мультимедиа.минобороны.рф

Lukashenko said on October 11 that the forthcoming large-scale NATO military exercise in Poland and the Baltic states is “incomprehensible” while both Belarus and Russia will need to sort out how to “ensure their security.” Lukashenko spoke at the meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States leaders in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat. The Belarusian leader seeks to find an excuse for the already-ongoing and scheduled joint drills with Russia by presenting an alleged threat from NATO. Minsk’s participation in the maneuvers comes at a time of key economic and financial efforts being taken as for its integration with Russia, with the former’s attempt to ingratiate itself with Moscow.

The strategic exercise Combat Brotherhood 2019 kicked off on October 8 across Russia, Belarus, and Tajikistan. Involved will be a total of 10,000 troops from the countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Soldiers from Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan will also take part. During the drills, they will practice countering terrorist threats. While this may be justified in the case of Central Asia, endangered with a possible attack from terrorist groups in neighboring Afghanistan, for Eastern Europe such an explanation is nothing more but a far-fetched scenario. Of course, this is all about holding drills in a bid to counter NATO – as indirectly admitted by the Russian Chief of the CSTO Joint Staff Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov, who said NATO’s military activity exerts a negative impact on security in Eastern Europe.

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The strategic exercise Combat Brotherhood 2019, codenamed Echelon 2019, started on October 8 in the exercise area Mulino in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod Oblast and lasted until October 10. Then Belarus will host an exercise (October 14–18) that is set to culminate on Tajik soil (October 21–29). In its final phase, scheduled to take place on October 21–25, a joint Belarusian-Russian exercise is planned. Russian airborne troops took part in military maneuvres on the Brest firing ground in western Belarus. On October 12, a tactical group of the 137th Airborne Regiment of the 106th Airborne Division arrived in the training ground in Brest. The scenario of the exercise includes a set of activities: overcoming water obstacles, jump with a parachute, including at night, airdrop of cargo supplies, and combat shooting.

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