Russia deploys commandos in Belarus as part of Slavic Brotherhood drill

The Russian Defense Ministry deployed a tactical group of the Tula Airborne Division to Belarus as part of the second stage of the Slavic Brotherhood exercise.

"In accordance with the concept of the Belarusian-Russian exercise Slavic Brotherhood-2020, a tactical group of the Tula unit of the Russian airborne forces arrived in the territory of the Republic of Belarus by railway transport. The group will take part in joint practical actions of the active phase at Gozhsky training ground near Grodno," representatives of the Russian Defence Ministry said.

In total, more than 900 people and about 100 pieces of military hardware take part in the exercises from the Russian side. The war games take place against the background of the aggravation of the political crisis in Belarus, where protests against the rigged results of the August 9 presidential elections still continue to this day.

The Russian paratroopers, who arrived in Belarus on September 14, together with their Belarusian colleagues, will practice a landing mission, seizure of the landing area, parachuting of the main forces from the Il-76MD aircraft and destruction of illegal armed formations.

Andrey Serdyukov, the commander of the Russian Airborne Forces also arrived in Minsk. The Russian delegation that he chaired met with the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus - First Deputy Defense Minister of Belarus, Major General Alexander Volfovich. "The parties discussed the readiness of the forces and means involved for the second stage of the war games," the ministry said.

The first stage of "Slavic Brotherhood" war games kicked off on September 14 with the participation of Special Operations Forces of Belarus and 300 servicemen of the elite Pskov division of the Russian Airborne Forces. The maneuvers were held place at Brestsky training ground, near the border of Belarus and Poland.

Moscow and Minsk previously stated that they planned the second stage of the maneuvers for October. The servicemen of the two countries practiced combat and training counter-terrorist operations: they blocked and destroyed conditional militants in western regions of the country.

The second stage of the Belarusian-Russian exercises "Slavic Brotherhood-2020" started on Tuesday at four training grounds in Belarus. About six thousand troops and over 500 units of military hardware will take part in the exercises. The second stage of the drills is held to practice joint actions for ensuring the military security of Belarus. Major General Sergei Potapenko, Deputy Defense Minister of Belarus, will be in charge of the maneuvers.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised President Alexander Lukashenko that Russia would strictly abide by all obligations assumed to Belarus, including within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Under the CSTO agreement, Belarus can turn to Russia for help if it comes across an external threat that threatens its security. The Treaty also states that CSTO member states can assist each other in protecting their sovereignty.

In late August, Vladimir Putin announced the creation of a reserve unit of law enforcement officers in Russia to help the Belarusian regime. "President Lukashenko asked me to do it and so I did, but we also agreed that it would not be used until the situation goes out of control," Putin then said.