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Belarus: the army goes west, ‘specialists’ go to the cities?

This post was published in Defence24. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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WARSAW, (BM) – The Belarusian authorities are ordering the end of the protests in Minsk, and at the same time they are heating up the topic of the alleged external threat from the countries neighboring Belarus and the entire NATO. Moreover, the rhetoric itself is followed by the real relocation of Belarusian troops and the issues of increased readiness in units previously deployed in the region of the western outskirts of the country.

According to the ruling president, Lukashenka, it is also crucial to secure the borders against the possibility of an influx of weapons, explosives and people who, in his opinion, pose a threat to citizens.

The Belarusian Minister of Defense, Viktor Khrenin (previously in charge of the Western command, and from 2020 on the decision of President Lukashenka, the new Minister of Defense) was to order the strengthening of the operational command in this country responsible for the Western direction.

Moreover, during the meeting of the Belarusian Security Council, President Lukashenka gave orders to put the army on alert, especially in the aforementioned western part of the country. Thus, the political and military authorities in Minsk indicated that they should pay special attention to the defense capabilities in the direction of Grodno. BelTA news agency writes about all activities very widely.

This applies, apart from the troops deployed there, also reinforcements from other parts of the country. First of all, it will be a missile squadron operating on Tochka sets. As well as the missile squadron, which is equipped with new Polonez systems. The Western Operational Command will additionally gain access to a team of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs currently used by Belarusians are mainly the Moskit, Busieł and Grif-1 machines).

Strengthening the defense of Belarus, from the west, is to be favored by shifts in anti-aircraft defense systems (Osa sets from one of the units were transferred by 400 km), EW radio-electronic warfare and increasing the capabilities of electronic reconnaissance units.

Let us remind you that, as Marcin Gawęda wrote in Defence24.pl, the modern artillery of the Belarusian army consists of three artillery brigades (51, 111 and 231) and two missile brigades (336 and 465). Apart from the 336 Rocket Brigade partially rearmed with the Polonez systems, the barrel and missile artillery has not yet been modernized (Hiacynt, Msta-B, Toczka-U, Uragan, Smiercz). It is possible that in the near future Belarusian rocket artillery will receive new, modernized systems, e.g.

The 220mm Uragan-M shown on the Milex-2019. The “Flejta” light rocket launcher, which fires 80mm S-8 unguided missiles (the same ones used in aviation), is also being tested. A block with 80 tubular guides (5×16) is mounted on a lightweight, armored 4×4 Asiłak carrier.

Other units were also moved to the west of Belarus. Armored and mechanized units of the Land Forces (including the 6th and 11th Mechanized Brigades, but not only) also train on the training grounds. The Belarusian border is patrolled by Su-30SM fighters and Yak-130 trainers. It can be assumed that a large part (if not most) of the Belarusian army’s potential was moved to the western regions, often after several hundred kilometers.

In general, President Lukashenka has for some time been officially suggesting that the threat to Belarus are NATO countries, especially its neighbors – Lithuania and Poland. In his statements, the President of Belarus referred to the alleged relocation of NATO troops on the territory of both countries.

Noting that, in his opinion, concerns are raised by “certain facts” relating to the direction of foreign activity towards the aforementioned Grodno.

Thus, in addition to military maneuvers and the announcement of strengthening the contingent of the troops deployed to the west of the country, there are also orders issued to the Belarusian State Border Committee pointing to the need to strengthen the protection of the state border.

According to the authorities in Minsk, such actions are intended to prevent the influx of foreign fighters, weapons, ammunition and money to finance riots in Belarus. This is in line with the official line of the Belarusian government’s narrative that any unrest is to be derived from foreign, hostile activity.

The same line was adopted by General Anatoly Lappo, responsible for the actions of the Belarusian border guards. He also officially insisted on the requirement to thwart attempts to bring weapons, explosives and drugs into the state. In his opinion, border guards must be especially careful not to let people into the state who may later harm or threaten citizens’ lives.

Referring to the current wave of protests by Belarusians, he stressed that in his opinion “at such a time” illegal groups could become active, and the authorities in Belarus could thus face various provocations, also against border guards. General Lappo encouraged his people, but noted that they must remain vigilant.

It should also be remembered that the 103rd Aeromobile Brigade of Special Operations Forces has recently been transferred to Grodno. Given the high intensity of protests in the city, it may be tasked with supporting the Ministry of the Interior’s forces in suppressing them, for example by carrying out patrols with weapons on the streets of the city, protecting buildings, and finally – providing a reserve in the event of a violent solution.

A similar task in Brest has been performed by the 38th Aeromobile Brigade of the Special Operations Forces since August 10, while in Minsk the units of the 5th Spetsnaz SSO Brigade are probably ready for use (vehicles characteristic of this unit have already been seen on the day of the elections).

It may therefore be that “in the shadow” of missile, artillery, armored and air defense units training at the border, special and air-mobile units will perform real combat operations on the territory of Belarus, related to suppressing protests.

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