RUSSIA MONITOR

Date: 26 September 2017

Russian Are Back in Belarus. Nuclear Weapons in Proving Grounds

Moscow criticized the “hysteria” of the West related to the Zapad-2017 exercises. Meanwhile, it may be confirmed that the activities that took place in proving grounds over the last week were only a small part of the training. The Russian army does not slow down. Even if Zapad-2017 is over, the Russian still perform their military drills on land as well as on water and in the air. Spetsnaz forces landed in Minsk where preparations for joint exercises are currently in progress. In western and central Russia, over a dozen units of rocket-propelled nuclear weapons have been trained during only one day. Also other types of troops have their military exercises in various parts of the country. The apogee of the autumn maneuvers is expected at the turn of September and October.


© TATYANA ZENKOVICH PAP/EPA

On September 25, a subdivision of the Russian Airborne Forces arrived in Minsk. The Russians and the Belarusians will conduct bilateral tactical and special exercises on one of the Belarusian proving grounds; preparations are currently in progress. Its start is scheduled for October 8. Also on September 25, more than 600 units of Strategic Missile Troops (RVSN), that is overland nuclear-weapon division of the Russian Armed Forces, were deployed over one day. On the evening of September 14, an alarm was announced in units of the Western and Central Districts. At night, Topol, Topol-M and Jars missiles were launched by regiments deployed in five regions of the country, from Tver Oblast to Altai Krai. Once the mission had been completed, missiles returned to their respective bases and they were replaced with new subunits. During these exercises, launchers were put into combat positions; in addition, they were provided with some engineering protection along with camouflage. At the same time, other units simulated the destruction of hostile groups of enemy partisans. Moreover, the exercises encompassed a simulation of missile launch, including intercontinental ones (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, ICBM). These are preliminary exercises in two military districts before large maneuvers of missile units planned at the end of September. They will be held in Novosibirsk Oblast with more than 4,000 troops and 400 units of equipment.

Between September 25 and 26, drills were conducted in various parts of Russia, from the Arctic to the Far East. At the same time, the Onega and Naryan-Mar vessels of the Northern Fleet trained repelling the enemy’s air attack on the White Sea. On the same day, more than 20 other Northern Fleet ships, including the battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy and 10 underwater nuclear warships (along with 30 aircrafts and helicopters) carried out missile and artillery exercises in the Barents Sea. During that time, 13 guided missiles were launched, also from the submarines’ level.

The drills included also other types of forces. On September 25, aerial tactical exercises involving bombers and fighters began in the air centre in Lipetsk. Also on September 25, a war alarm was announced for about 3,000 troops of the 90th Armored Division of the Central Military District. Over 800 units of equipment participated in these drills in the Southern Ural. On the same day, the assault group of the Airborne Forces in Ulyanovsk conducted the first tactical exercises with the use of the latest BMD-4M and BTR-MDM Rakushka fighting vehicles, which were commissioned in August this year. They practised combatting diversionary and reconnaissance groups of the enemy. On September 26, an alert for a motorized infantry brigade was announced in the Tarskoye proving ground in North Ossetia. More than 500 troops and 100 units of armored equipment participated in the exercises. At dawn of September 26, large air force maneuvers began in the Far East of Russia. All equipment of the Eastern Military District in Primorsky Krai and Khabarovsk Krai are actively engaged in the drills. The exercises will include ground targets bombardment and aerial warfare at high altitudes.

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