Belarus Security Update – 9 September – 15 October 2023
Last week brought no changes regarding the general posture of the Belarusian Armed Forces.
Over the past seven days, Belarusian military-political leadership representatives were relatively active, although most of these actions had an international character.
Internally, high-rank Belarusian officers focused on scientific or “ideological” events.
In the latter half of the week, most Belarusian Armed Forces personnel were involved in celebrating Belarusian Mother’s Day (14OCT).
The general training tempo remained rather standard. Several control classes held among Belarusian military formations were quite notable. However, only a few training events can be considered noteworthy.
Last week, elements of the Russian Armed Forces deployed in Belarus presented minimal activity. Subsequently, no notable information linked to the Wagner PMC mercenaries appeared in open sources.
9OCT2023 – Belarus and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
On Monday (9OCT), the Belarusian Hajun military monitoring team reported that the state-controlled Minskaya Pravda newspaper published a column by Russia Today journalist Igor Molotov, who presented direct support for the Palestinian side.
Molotov claimed that the Palestinian victory should be considered a victory of Russia and Belarus (“Moscow and Minsk”) and compared Israel to the Third Reich and other fascist regimes.
The text was deleted shortly after.
Considering the publisher of Molotov’s article, it seems quite unlikely that the publication was accidental. Hajun believes that the Belarusian leadership might have indirectly presented its support for the Palestinian side, especially since Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will likely meet Iranian Vice President Mohammad Mokhber in the near future.
11-14OCT2023 – Belarus and its neighbours
On Wednesday (11OCT), the Ukrainian National Resistance Center provided data about potential Belarusian provocation aimed against Ukraine. A mentioned source informed that the Belarusian KDB (KGB), jointly with the Russian FSB, is preparing a terrorist attack at the Brestoblnefteprodukt oil depot in Pryluky, which is located two kilometres from the Polish-Belarusian border.
According to the provided data, perpetrators would use a UAV carrying explosives to damage the facility and blame Ukrainians for the attack.
Interestingly, three days later (14OCT), Lithuania introduced a ban on UAV flights near the Belarusian border. According to the Latvian Civil Aviation Agency, restrictions will come into force on 16OCT and pertain to civilian UAVs at altitudes up to 2895 meters. They will last until the end of 2023 (31DEC).
It can’t be ruled out that this measure is meant to allow Lithuanians to better control their airspace in border areas where Belarusians support illegal immigrant movements. On the other hand, it might indicate a Lithuanian intent to conceal its military presence near the border from Belarusian air reconnaissance activity.
12OCT2023 – The Belarusian involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict
On Thursday (12OCT), the Head of the Ukrainian Military Intelligence Directorate (HUR), Lt. Gen. Kirilo Budanov, gave an extensive interview for Ukrainskaya Pravda news outlet, during which he referred to the Belarusian involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. He also spoke directly about the role of Alexander Lukashenko.
Firstly, Budanov mentioned the current political-military situation in Belarus and emphasised there was no risk of aggression from Belarus. He also observed that any potential Belarusian “mutiny” against Alexander Lukashenko appeared unlikely. Budanov noted that Belarusians had been repressed after the events of 2020 and did not want to “share the fate” of Ukrainians. This refers to potential Russian intervention.
Secondly, the Head of the Ukrainian HUR somehow prised Alexander Lukashenko for his ability to stand up to Putin. According to him, Lukashenko had not permitted any Russian ground attacks from Belarus after the withdrawal from northern Ukraine in early spring.
Notably, the Belarusian Hajun team criticised Budanov’s words shortly after.
As noted, Lukashenko had no authority to decide about a potential Belarusian invasion.
Moreover, Hajun noted earlier Lukashenko’s statements in which the Belarusian President denied the possibility of a Russian attack from Belarusian soil. Budanov was reminded not to forget that relatives of Belarusian volunteers fighting in Ukraine were constantly repressed.
The interview is interesting in that it is the first time such a high-rank Ukrainian military official spoke positively about Lukashenko. Although this might be a far-fetched idea currently, it could indicate that Kyiv and Minsk are seeking ways to reestablish communications.
14OCT2023 – The Council of the Commonwealth of the Independent States Heads
On Friday (14OCT), the Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko arrived in Kyrgyzstan to participate in the Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS) Heads Summit.
Before the event, Lukashenko met with his Uzbekistan counterpart, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The meeting occurred behind closed doors, but according to an official statement, it pertained to the development of the bilateral relations between states but also to the situation in the world. Both presidents updated the tasks of their deputy prime ministers and foreign ministers regarding the development of cooperation.
Later, Lukashenko participated in the summit, which was held in the “narrow circle” and lasted about five hours. The Belarusian President expressed his satisfaction with the tight schedule of the discussion and talked about the joint visions of the CIS members, as well as the role of the organisation as a whole.
He emphasised that the commonwealth’s purpose was to prevent “severance of ties” between states of the former Soviet Union in the multipolar world. Lukashenko asserted that this role was not in line with the interests of Western competitors, who continued to attempt to influence CIS members in various directions, weaken them, and subjugate them to their interests.
Subsequently, he mentioned the colossal role played by the common Russian language in actively integrating all organisation members. The Belarusian President also questioned the existence of international courts. This statement seemed to be related to the international arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin (and the potential for a warrant against Lukashenko himself), especially considering that this was Putin’s first foreign trip after the warrant was issued.
Besides, the Belarusian leader called CIS members for a more critical assessment of the current situation. According to him, old conflicts were resurfacing with very unfortunate consequences. Furthermore, the current political-military situation was evolving rapidly. Lukashenko pointed out that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict could potentially escalate into another world war. However, Lukashenko also emphasised that the CIS could resolve such conflicts and had already done so in some instances.
Reverting to the “Soviet times,” Lukashenko also underscored that the world had been apprehensive of the Soviet Union, and as a result, the country had commanded respect. Unfortunately, in the contemporary world, only strength was respected, the Belarusian leader stressed. As noted, CIS members should stand together with China, Iran, and Brazil because only then would they be resolute and capable of withstanding Western sanctions.
Finally, the Belarusian President again stressed the importance of CIS member states preserving their unity at all costs and not allowing internal splits.
14OCT2023 – The Belarusian-Russian military-technical cooperation
Aside from the Lukahsnko’s visit, the Chairman of the Belarusian State Military-Industrial Committee, Dmitry Pantus, met with the Director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugaev, as a part of the 23rd Meeting of the Belarusian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation.
According to the official statement, officials discussed issues on the current bilateral cooperation and identified promising cooperation projects for the future. They signed a protocol of the joint meeting, two unspecified contracts and a roadmap for joint projects that third parties were interested in obtaining.
9-11OCT2023 – The UAV development in the Belarusian Armed Forces
Last week, Belarus introduced some noteworthy measures allowing for easier and faster development and using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by the Belarusian Armed Forces.
On Monday (9OCT), the Belarusian Ministry of Education approved a new educational standard for UAV operators currently trained at the Belarusian Military Academy.
According to a KGB General Telegram account (this account is known for publishing unverifiable information and having a strong inclination for disinformation. In this case, we decided to republish his post as we should soon be able to verify the information provided below), studies for the UAV operators in the Belarusian Military Academy will last four years in the standard cycle or five years in other forms of learning (distance/correspondence, etc.).
At the same time (9OCT), unverified data about the possible creation of a new military branch within the Belarusian Armed Forces appeared. This refers to “UAV forces”, which might be undertaken in three independent areas.
- Under the supervision of the Belarusian MoD and Main Reconnaissance (Intelligence) Directorate of the Belarusian General Staff, the Belarusian Armed Forces will prepare the necessary military infrastructure and create new UAV subunits. This part will also include the introduction of new degrees and training courses in universities and the 72nd Joint Training Center. The Belarusian Armed Forces will focus on the mass use of UAVs – from reconnaissance to kamikaze ones, especially since the Belarusian MoD has already created a new UAV Development Department.
- Under the supervision of the Belarusian State Military-Industrial Complex, Belarus will create several joint production enterprises, which (jointly with the Russian Federation and other friendly states) will be responsible for producing various UAVs. Certain military formations (arsenals and storage bases) will also become assembly and repair shops – the first such facility will be set up within the 3620th Artillery Weapons Base.
- Under the Belarusian KDB’s (KGB) supervision, Belarus will import sanctioned components and components from Iran, China and Turkey.
On Wednesday (11OCT), the delegation of several Belarusian high-rank officers led by the Chief of General Staff, Maj. Gen. Viktor Gulevich took part in a scientific-practical conference related to the automation of the unit command in the active unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) use conditions.
The event occurred in Osipovichi and was organised by the Belarusian Military Academy.
During its course, officials inspected an exhibition of modern reconnaissance and electronic warfare systems and watched practical classes with live ammo firing and kamikaze and reconnaissance UAV flights.
After practical actions were held at the Osipovichi Training Ground, conference participants listened to reports prepared by the representatives of the Belarusian Military Academy, as well as AJAX (likely Russian UAV producer) and ATK (Chinese-Belarusian UAV producer) enterprises.
Lectures occurred in the 51st Artillery Brigade’s club.
10-12OCT2023 – The “ideological work” among Belarusian military leadership
On Tuesday (10OCT), most Belarusian officers and generals participated in the meeting
with Belarusian Prosecutor General Lt. Gen. (of justice) Andrey Shved.
The meeting occurred in the Central House of Officers and was on investigating crimes against the Belarusian people (during WWII) and the counteraction to Nazism.
During the event, Shved familiarised representatives of the Belarusian security apparatus with the progress of the investigation and did a presentation possibly linked to German war crimes.
On the other hand, the Belarusian Prosecutor General praised the activity of the 52nd Special Search Battalion. According to him, servicemen of the subunit recovered 2,000 dead and 105 objects only in 2022. Thanks to their work, 120 names of decreased were established.
Two days later (12OCT), the Deputy Minister of Defence for Ideological Work (Head of the Main Ideological Work Department), Maj. Gen. Leonid Kasinsky participated in the “History for the future – Russia and Belarus” international forum at the Belarusian National Library.
The event strengthened cooperation between countries regarding preserving common historical and cultural values. During the event, Kasinsky discussed the issue of informational war, which he described as “harmful because it jeopardizes the future of entire nations and peoples.”
The Belarusian Deputy Minister of Defence asserted that Belarusians faced economic, political, and diplomatic pressures across all areas of their endeavours. He argued that preserving their history was the key to their survival.
11-13OCT2023 – The international activity of Belarusian military representatives
Over the past seven days, representatives of the Belarusian Armed Forces continued their heightened involvement in matters of military diplomacy and international military cooperation.
On Wednesday (11OCT), a Belarusian delegation headed by the Chief of Logistics (Deputy Minister
of Defence), Maj. Gen. Andrey Burdyko arrived in Tashkent to participate in a working meeting related to the rear support. The meeting likely had a bilateral character and pertained to cooperation between Belarusian and Uzbekistan Armed Forces. As noted, parties also discussed the future development of the logistics support.
Subsequently (11OCT), three International Military Cooperation Department (IMCD) officers, including its Deputy Head, Col. Dmitry Ryabikhin, participated in a joint meeting with Kazakhstan military diplomats. This refers to Kazakhstan Military Attache, Col. Kuat Kurmyshev and Maj. Marat Estetov, who was officially accredited to the position of the Kurmyshev’s assistant. According to the official statement, the parties also discussed the current bilateral military cooperation issues.
A day later (12OCT), the Head of the International Military Cooperation Department, Col. Valery Revenko, commented on the upcoming NATO “Steadfast Defender-2024” exercise. Revenko observed that the drills were planned close to the Belarusian border. He stated that the scale of these drills indicated that Poland was opting for an escalation of tension rather than fostering good and neighbourly relations. Revenko’s assertion was rooted in the reported statements of the new Polish Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Wiesław Kukuła, who (according to Revenko) had indicated that the drills would involve 20,000 soldiers.
Also, on Thursday (12OCT), the Belarusian delegation headed by the Chief of General Staff, Maj. Gen. Viktor Gulevich departed to Kyrgyzstan to observe the “Unbreakable Brotherhood-2023” exercise. They departed on an Il-76 (Baranovichi Air Base) to evaluate the overall activity of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) peacekeeping contingents involved in the drills.
11OCT2023 – Possible inspection of Belarusian air defence assets
On Wednesday (11OCT), the Belarusian Hajun team informed about the visit of the Belarusian Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Viktor Khrenin and Commander of the Belarusian Air Force and Air Defence Forces, Maj. Gen. Andrey Lukyanovich to Luniniets.
As noted, both generals inspected precisely the 2nd Radiotechnical Center of the 2287th Radiotechnical Battalion (8th Radiotechnical Brigade) and the 56th Air Defence Regiment. Hajun claimed that the inspection focused on the equipment (and personnel) involved in combat duty.
13-14OCT2023 – The Belarusian Armed Forces and Mother’s Day
Over the weekend, personnel of the Belarusian Armed Forces paid great attention to the commemoration of the Belarusian Mother’s Day.
Because the holiday occurred on Saturday (14OCT), most events were organised a day earlier (13OCT). On this day, the Deputy Minister of Defence for Ideological Work, Maj. Gen. Leonid Kasinsky arrived at the Central House of the Officers, where he led the central celebration of the mentioned holiday.
Nonetheless, smaller events, often connected with concerts and meetings with servicemen’s mothers, took place in the following formations (units):
- 5th Spetsnaz Brigade;
- 38th Air Assault Brigade;
- 103rd Airborne Brigade;
- 6th Mechanised Brigade;
- 11th Mechanised Brigade;
- 111th Artillery Brigade;
- 51st Artillery Brigade;
- 147th Air Defence Regiment;
- 557th Engineering Brigade;
- 30 Railway Brigade;
- 36th Road and Bridge and 65th Automobile Brigades;
- 74th Communications Regiment;
- 250th Security and Maintenance Battalion;
- 815th Technical Support Center;
- 230th Combined Arms Training Ground;
- 72nd Joint Training Center;
- Belarusian Military Academy;
- Minsk Military Commandant’s Office;
- 619th Communications Equipment Storage, Maintenance, and Disposal Base;
- 1405th Artillery Munitions Base;
- Military Commissariat of the Minsk region;
- Military Commissariat of the Stolin region;
- 61st Fighter Aviation Base;
- 15th Air Defence Brigade;
- 120th Air Defence Brigade;
- 49th Radiotechnical Brigade;
Considering the role of the holiday in Belarus, it is worth noting that events held in all Belarusian SOF formations (5th Spetsnaz, 38th Air Assault, 103rd Airborne Brigades), 6th Mechanised Brigade, 72nd Joint Training Center, as well as the 61st Fighter Aviation Base, 619th and 140th Storage Bases and Military Commissariat of the Minsk and Stolin regions were led directly by the formations (units) commanders (or heads).
Soldiers of the 11th, 19th and 120th Mechanised Brigades, 465th Missile Brigade, as well as cadets of the Belarusian Military Academy either visited their mothers or participated in solemn celebrations (based on their military formations) even a day later (14OCT).
09-14OCT2023 – The “Unbreakable Brotherhood-2023” exercise
Last week, elements of the Belarusian Armed Forces participated in the CSTO exercise codename “Unbreakable Brotherhood-2023”, the last part of the “Combat Brotherhood-2023” operational-tactical exercise.
On Monday (9OCT), the Belarusian “contingent” involving soldiers of the peacekeeping company of the 103rd Airborne Brigade, officers of the Belarusian Special Operation Forces (SOF) Command and servicemen of the Internal Troops (Minsk OMON) took part in the official opening ceremony in Balykchy. Deputy CSTO Secretary Tahir Khairuloev and the Chief of the CSTO Joint Staff, Col. Gen. Anatoly Sidorov, attended the event.
A day later (10OCT), the drills commenced at the Edelweiss Training Center, where participants worked out combat-training tasks related to freeing hostages, liberating a settlement, escorting convoys (and their cargo) and providing humanitarian assistance.
Soldiers of the peacekeeping company created at least two tactical groups. The first one landed with a Mi-8 helicopter in the vicinity of the training settlement with the task of blocking the withdrawal of the potential enemy, while the second (BTR-equipped) was responsible for clearing the settlement.
On Wednesday (11OCT), elements of the 103rd Airborne Brigade conducted an air assault
(three Mi-8 helicopters) and, jointly with their Russian, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan counterparts, blocked the village occupied by the mock enemy.
On Thursday (12OCT), “terrorists” seized a large barge with radioactive waste cargo at the Issyk-Kul lake. CSTO forces conducted a special operation to release the vessel and secure its load. They utilised six boats (including RVC-1328 “Viceadmiral Temirov) and Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters. Nevertheless, the scale of Belarusian contingent involvement remains unclear.
On the last day of the drills (13OCT), actions of the CSTO forces were observed by the Chief of Belarusian General Staff, Maj. Gen. Viktor Gulevich. However, the exact course of the day’s activities is also unclear. Gulevich stated that the exercise demonstrated the increasing growth and strengthening of friendship and cooperation among CSTO servicemen. It was pointed out that the exercise’s dynamics indicated the high level of training among peacekeeping contingents.
09-12OCT2023 – Control classes of Belarusian military formations
Over the past seven days, several Belarusian military formations underwent a series of various control classes. In most cases, they involved live firing drills and checked tactical preparedness. However, some included tactical medicine classes or even tested “ideological” knowledge of soldiers.
On Monday (9OCT), such classes involved personnel of the 250th Maintenance and Security Battalion and 557th Engineering Brigade.
Also on Monday, soldiers of the 6th and 11th Mechanised Brigades underwent “evening personnel verification” led by the formations’ commanders.
On Tuesday (10OCT), personnel of the 19th Mechanised Brigade Soldiers took part in control classes at the Lepelsky Training Ground. They included drills linked to fire, tactical and medical training.
A day later (11OCT), the Gozhsky Training Ground hosted such classes for the 78th Mechanised Battalion (BTR-82A-equipped) of the 6th Mechanised Brigade, who performed driving exercises. Personnel from the 202nd Mechanised Battalion conducted BMP-2 firing drills.
At the same time (11OCT), personnel from the 7th Engineering Regiment and 557th Engineering Brigade conducted similar exercises at the 227th Combined Arms Training Ground.
On Thursday (12OCT), elements of the 19th Mechanised Brigade (including the 191st Artillery Group) took part in control firing classes at the Lepelsky Training Ground.
10-11OCT2023 – The training activity of the Belarusian SOF
Last week, a small increase in the Belarusian Special Operation Forces activity occurred. However, the general training tempo remained low.
On Tuesday (10OCT), soldiers of the 38th Air Assault Brigade conducted parachute jumps from Il-76 transport aircraft over the Brestsky Training Ground. Based on published photos, it is safe to assume that jumps engaged at least 30-40 servicemen who jumped out from 600 metres. At least part of the jumps occurred in the late evening.
A day later (11OCT), at least one airborne company of the 103rd Airborne Brigade left its home garrison and presumably moved to the Losvido Training Ground as a part of combat training classes. Nonetheless, no details linked to their course appeared.
10OCT2023 – The training activity of the reserve servicemen
Last week, the Belarusian military formations continued to induct reserve servicemen as a part of the planned reserve training camps.
On Tuesday (10OCT), the 111th Artillery Brigade inducted nine reservists, who would assist with maintaining military and special equipment. Analogical induction occurred in the 11th Mechanised Brigade and involved at least 20 servicemen. Also, the 25th Arsenal inducted at least five reservists.
Interestingly, a day later (11OCT), the Belarusian Hajun team informed about the first criminal case against a Belarusian reservist who evaded participation in reserve training camps in 2023.
It occurred on 6OCT in Ivanovo.
11-13OCT2023 – The battalion-level tactical exercise
Last week’s second most noteworthy training event occurred between Wednesday (11OCT) and Friday (13OCT) when an unspecified mechanised battalion of the 120th Mechanised Brigade conducted a battalion-level tactical exercise.
The practical actions occurred at the 227th Combined Arms Training Ground. On Wednesday (11OCT), soldiers focused on countering enemy reconnaissance and sabotage groups. A day later (12OCT), they stopped the attack of a mock enemy to secure the safe withdrawal of the battalion’s subunits. The final episode, held on Friday (13OCT), included a counterattack of mechanised elements working in a small group, which “knocked out” and destroyed the mock enemy.
09-15OCT2023 – Noteworthy movements of Belarusian military equipment
Over the past seven days, only a single ground movement of Belarusian military equipment can be considered noteworthy. This refers to three MAZ trucks (with trailers) and a single ZIL-131 fuel truck moving from Minsk towards Khatezhino on Monday (9OCT).
Russian military activity in Belarus
Last week, the Russian activity included a single ground movement and the arrival of presumably two transport planes.
On Monday (9OCT), a single Ural-4320 fuel truck was moving between Uritskoye and Zhlobin.
Wagner PMC activity in Belarus
No noteworthy data related to the activity of the Wagner PMC mercenaries in Belarus appeared last week.