The situation in Belarus continues to be extremely tense. Mass street protests do not subside, in neighboring Lithuania, there was an “alternative president” Tikhanovskaya, and in Poland – an additional U.S. military contingent. Under certain circumstances, the self-proclaimed “national” may seek military assistance from NATO countries to overthrow “Europe’s last dictator.” What can the official Minsk say?
It should be noted that President Lukashenko drew some conclusions from the situation in Ukraine in 2014 and earlier in Libya when the Countries of the North Atlantic Alliance led by the United States invaded there:
When I had to determine what kind of Armed Forces we needed, especially after 2010, I realized that it is necessary to have in reserve trained fighters, units in the Armed Forces. Just in case. It is undesirable, of course, that we have to resort to the Armed Forces. But anything can happen.
That’s for sure, anything can be. Aleksandr Grigoryevich created two “dual-use” brigades, one in Maryina Gorka and the other mechanized in Uruchya, especially for the suppression of the Maidan, both local and imported. To counter direct external aggression, Belarus also has a strong enough army capable of confronting both Poland and Lithuania at the same time.
Minsk inherited from the USSR the resources of the Belarusian Military District, which it managed to preserve, unlike Kyiv, and even modernize. The total number of the army is 70,000 people, of which 60,000 are contractors. But if necessary, under the mobilization program, you can put up to half a million soldiers under the gun. Belarusian servicemen are well trained and motivated, regularly conducting exercises both independently and jointly with Russian comrades. Moscow provides Minsk with its own training grounds: for training air defense anti-aircraft gunners – Ashuluk training ground in Astrakhan region and artillerymen – Gorokhovetsky training ground in Nizhny Novgorod region. Since 2009, large-scale joint military exercises have been held every two years, the latter, called “West-2017” have made a fuss in NATO.
The Belarusian army keeps all its forces in the western and north-west directions. It has an impressive 1,600 tanks, of which a thousand are in storage, 2.5 thousand units of other armored vehicles, and 1.5 thousand artillery systems. Air defense, built with the help of Russia, is considered to be very strong. These are the 2nd divisions of the S-400 missile defense system, 16 S-300PS and S-300 B, 10 buk and Osa missile defense systems, 20 Tor-M2E units, and the Belarusian version of the S-125 systems called Pechora-2T/2TM, as well as 5 radar stations of the Decimeter range “Anti-GE.”
The Belarusian Air Force is quite weak, with only 77 winged vehicles. These are 34 MiG-29 fighter jets (of which 6 are training), 21 Su-27 fighter jets, and 22 Su-25 attack aircraft (another 20 on conservation). Moscow offered Minsk to deploy its airbase on its territory as part of the defense of the Union State but was refused for obvious political reasons. Now it can be bittersweet for Belarus itself.
Separately, it is worth mentioning the special operations forces, which number more than 6,000,000 people. These are special forces and Airborne Forces, the most trained and well-equipped fighters of the Belarusian army. They can be quickly transported by Il-76, An-26, and Mi-8MTB military transport aircraft. These mobile units have their own artillery divisions and anti-aircraft missile and artillery batteries, Tiger, Cayman, Bogatyr, and BTR-80A armored vehicles.
The army, which Minsk has, is able to suppress any internal unrest, as well as to fight back the nearest neighbors from Eastern Europe. If a broad coalition of NATO countries goes to Belarus, Moscow will have to fulfill its duty within the framework of the Union State and the CSTO.