Russia is boosting its military capabilities in both the air and on the ground in Belarus amid high tension with the West, say reports.
Russian forces have begun ‘intensive training’ at five military airfields in the landlocked authoritarian state bordering NATO countries Poland and Lithuania.
The moves come after Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko reaffirmed his support for Putin’s war against Ukraine during a visit to Moscow last month.
But it will dismay his generals, who wrote an extraordinary open letter to the despot imploring him to stay out of the war in Ukraine, calling such a move ‘pure suicide’.
They went a step further, labelling the Russians as trying to ‘destroy the sovereignty’ of Belarus.
In spite of this, some 20 top air force fighter pilots recently arrived by regular train from Moscow, reported Belarusky Gayun, a Telegram channel monitoring troops movements.
Russian ‘intensive’ military training drills were held all over Ukraine Saturday, while an S300 anti-air missile system was spotted being transported near the town of Baranovichi
A motorist took this photo of a Russian S-300 missiles being transported around Belarus near Baranovichi
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko reaffirmed his support for Putin’s war against Ukraine during a visit to Moscow last month
Russian (left) and Belarus (right) soldiers shaking hands during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at a firing range near Brest on the Polish border on February 19
Russia is also said to have taken control of Prybytki Air Base in Belarus where it already deploys an S-400 battalion with Pantsir and Iskander missiles.
The officers of the fifth brigade of the special forces observed that Russia’s highest political leadership have infringed Clause One of the Belarus Constitution.
‘According to this Clause, the Belarus Republic maintains supremacy and full authority on its own territory,’ they wrote.
‘It also enjoys independence over its internal and foreign politics.’
They were also strongly against joining Putin in his war against Ukraine, which they called a ‘friend of our state’ and considered doing so as ‘the destruction of the sovereignty of Belarus.’
‘To join Russia in its fight against Ukraine would be an act of pure suicide.’
Russian and Belarus tanks drill manoeuvres on a firing range near Brest on the Polish border, Feb 19
Helicopters conduct training drills during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus on Feb 19
Nonethless, convoys of Russian missile defence systems were seen moving towards the Belarus border with Poland, said Belarusky Gayun.
‘There are about ten units in the column, among them communication vehicles based on KamAZ and tilt trucks, some pulling generators, and one flies the flag of the USSR’ – something that will alarm the Belarus generals even further.
‘The vehicles are in camouflage colours, with the identification mark ‘V’ on the doors.’
Drills including troops from both Russia and Belarus have been extended to around 15 or 16 July at more than a dozen training bases in Belarus in a move described as ‘atypical’, said reports.
‘About 20 pilots from Russia arrived in Baranavichy.… on a regular Moscow-Brest train,’ said the channel.
‘This is not the first report that the Russian military has again begun to arrive in Belarus on ordinary passenger trains.
‘There is a certain correlation between the arrival of the Russian military and an increase in…air training.’
Russia has previously deployed in Belarus to attack Ukraine.
File photo of a Russian Pantsir C1, self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile system, which are reported to be stationed in Prybytki Air Base in Belarus
File photo of a S-400 surface-to-air missile launcher similar to the anti-air systems Russia has moved into Belarus
But Belarus also borders Poland and Lithuania and the new intensity may show Vladimir Putin and his Minsk ally Alexander Lukashenko boosting defences at the border with NATO.
Three S-300 air defence systems have been seen on the move on the Minsk-Brest highway, in the direction of the border with Poland.
One autocrat came to another’s rescue in the summer of 2020 when widescale protests broke out in Belarus over a fraudulent election that saw Lukashenko retain power.
Putin provided security forces, financial aid and even TV presenters to spout government propaganda when the native ones went on strike in protest.
The price for saving Lukashenko’s regime from a democratic uprising now appears to be the sovereignty of Belarus, with Putin in effect occupying the country with his military.
Inside Russia, in Bryansk region a bomb exploded on a rail track in Bryansk region, said governor Alexander Bogomaz.
This appears to be the latest in a series of sabotage attacks on rail lines in Russia.
The aim of the unknown perpetrators appears to be to disrupt the use of trains to move troops and weapons.
Dozens of such attacks have been reported in recent weeks.
At Baranavichy, in Brest region, close to the Polish border, fighter pilots are reportedly training in takeoffs and quick climbs.
From June 16, Mi-8 helicopter training has been underway.
‘Typically, such training takes place a couple of times a year, but in three weeks their annual rate has already been exceeded,’ said the channel.
The movements by Putin’s forces come after NATO states agreed to boost their presence in countries bordering Russia.