Posted on Sep 14, 2021
The large-scale Zapad-2021 military drill, conducted by the Russian and Belarusian armed forces, is seen as strengthening military ties between the two countries.
Russia's President Putin arrived in Mulino, a military training ground near the city of Nizhniy Novgorod south of Moscow on September 13th to watch a tank manoeuvre segment of the exercise series.
The Russian Defence Ministry described the exercise as “strategic,” stating that more than 200,000 troops from both countries are taking part in the drill, conducted on Russian and Belarusian territories. The ministry also said that 80 military jets and helicopters and more than 760 units of various military equipment, including robot units, are part of the drill.
Putin sees Lukashenko's estrangement from the west as an opportunity to move in. Russia already has two military structures in Belarus: the Volga early warning station near Baranovichi city and Vileika Naval communication centre, connecting the Russian chief of staff with the nuclear submarines in the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
Next comes the development of a Russian-Belarusian joint military training centere in Baranovichi airfield, near the capital of Minsk. The site is slated to focus on joint training of anti-aircraft and air-force units of both forces. The Belorussian Defense Ministry said that several Russian Su-30СМ jets have arrived “to establish” a joint centre.
Lukashenko has traditionally opposed any Russian military presence on Belarusian territory, citing security reasons. “Why expose ourselves to the attack of a possible aggressor, pushing the air force base to the front line,” he has said.
Now, with relations with the west at an all time low, and with a creaking economy, Europe's last dictator seemingly has no choice but to acquiesce to Putin's wishes.
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