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.
WARSAW, (BM) – Russia cannot afford to lose influence in Belarus. Therefore, one can boldly imagine that in a critical situation, to achieve his political goals, he will use a variant of force – a hidden or open intervention, appropriately legendary, e.g. destabilization of a country or an alleged threat from NATO.
In the Belarusian direction, for armed intervention, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Armed Forces of the Russian Federation) can use most of the potential of the Western Military District (ZachOW), and in the first place, tactical units located closest to the Belarusian border – i.e. units of central (district) subordination, airborne troops (pow-des), and the 1st Panzer Army and the 20th All-Military Army. The elements of the 1st Apanc Gw, the core of which are two divisions – the 4th Kantemir Armored Division and the 2nd Taman Mechanized Division – traditionally participate in bilateral allied exercises (Szczit Sojuza / Union Shield, West / Zapad), so the possible transfer of some subunits to Belarus seems to be natural.
It would also be possible to use elements of the pow-des troops, e.g. 76 or 106 divisions of the VDV, especially since the Russian airborne units and their Belarusian counterpart, the Special Operations Forces, often train with each other, the staff knows each other well, they also share the tradition of blue berets, etc.
In turn, the battalions and regiments of the 144 Motorized Rifle Division, recently formed, are located almost at the Belarusian border (Smolensk, Jelnia, Klincy, Poczep, etc.). Therefore, an almost immediate intervention is possible in the direction of Orsha-Minsk (M1 main) or Gomel-Minsk (M5).
In the event of a sudden deterioration of the situation and the choice of a force variant by Moscow, it will rather be an allied intervention in defense of the Russian sphere of influence (which is tantamount to defending Lukashenka’s regime at the moment), rather than an enemy invasion. The range of tactical relationships and the allied nature of the intervention basically excludes the necessity / need to deploy troops in field camps along the border, as in the Ukrainian variant in 2014. So far, it seems more likely that Russian troops will enter at the invitation of the regime and show allied force than the enemy intervention, in the “Ukrainian” variant.
In the event of an intervention, it can be expected to introduce, first of all, light, mobile units with wheeled means of transport, i.e. special, reconnaissance, motorized shooters on BTRs. The tactical link of the first line in this case will be, for example, the 144th Mechanized Division, with its headquarters in Jelnia. Its reconnaissance battalion is stationed in Smolensk, so it can be directed to the Minsk direction in emergency mode and take operational action within hours. First of all, you should also take into account special purpose units, which can be quickly moved to Belarus, e.g. 2nd Spetsnaz Brigade (Psków), 16th Spetsnaz Brigade (Tambov), 45th Spetsnaz Brigade of VDV (Kubinka) etc.
It is also highly probable – in the event of an allied military intervention – that elements of the 1st APancGw will enter Belarus.
It should be remembered that the Belarusian-Russian exercises (e.g. Zapad-2017), involving the transfer of forces and resources of the POW-des troops and 1APanc strike elements to the territory of Belarus, were in fact a practical exercise in the event of the need to enter the Republic of Russia for the Armed Forces. Thus, there are not only plans, but also practical logistic experience of moving selected forces and assets of an armored army (wheeled and rail transports, fuel supply centers, concentration and unloading sites, field bases and pipelines, etc.).
More likely than the intervention of the armed forces, it seems that the scenario of supporting the ally with units of the Rosguard, which consists of OMON, SOBR, former internal troops, special-purpose units, etc. In the emergency mode, you can direct to Belarus, e.g. by air by any a centrally subordinated special unit, just as fast can be transported by road, e.g. from Moscow or St. Petersburg. The intervention of the Rosguard (OMON), or the Russian Armed Forces, would be presented as restoring order in the face of a threat to Belarus’ security, inspired by the externally inspired “Maidan”. Defense Minister Viktar Chrenin recently spoke of a failed coup attempt in the wake of a “color revolution” inspired from outside and the ongoing hybrid war against Belarus.
The fact that this scenario of the support of Belarusian security forces by Russian colleagues was / is taken into account – so far – is most taken into account by the words of Vladimir Putin that a special reserve has been formed from forces subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior, which can be used “if necessary”.
Unfortunately, it is not known what the number and composition of this reserve is. Seen in mid-August, the columns of trucks without identification marks used by Rosgvard, traveling from Moscow and St. Petersburg towards Belarus, may have been part of the reserve. These columns did not cross the border, and at present, as the Belarusian security forces are in control of the situation, it is possible that they have been returned to the base.
A video from St. Petersburg recently released of OMONs carrying backpacks and shields from unmarked trucks. Some experts believe that for some time OMON units from St. Petersburg or Moscow could have been located close to the border with Belarus in order to support the relatively small Belarusian OMON if necessary.
The ideal for an intervention in Belarus, in the conditions of a hybrid war (operation between peace and war) may be, for example, the Division of Dzerzhinsky (ODON) from Balashycha near Moscow. 604 Spetsnaz Center and operational regiments (1, 2, 4) are capable of performing the entire spectrum of tasks, while the division also has heavy equipment – BTR-80/82, Gaz Tigr family vehicles, mortar and anti-aircraft units, etc. As a mobile unit, professional and numerous (about 10,000), she is predisposed to the role of a separate “reserve”, even in the strength of several thousand soldiers.
The division has the strength and means to carry out various tasks: anti-terrorist and counter-terrorism, pacification of mass protests, protection of important state facilities, etc. In the central region, near Moscow, Rosguard also has other forces and resources, including 95 and 55 divisions in Moscow, 21 Brigade in Sofrino, Moscow region, 33, 63, 110 brigades in St. Petersburg, as well as brigades and regiments in neighboring regions (including the 12th Brigade based in Tula and regiments in Voronezh, Bryansk, Kursk etc.). The 25th Independent Special Purpose Unit “Merkury” (Zornovka) is stationed in the Smolensk region.
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