10 Feb 2022 09:02

Russia and Belarus kick off Union Resolve 2022 joint exercise - Russian Defense Ministry

MOSCOW. Feb 10 (Interfax) - The Union Resolve 2022 Russian-Belarusian military exercise has begun in Belarus, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

"The Union Resolve 2022 joint exercise was launched at training ranges of the Republic of Belarus on February 10 as part of the second stage of the check of the Union State's rapid response forces," the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

"The objective of the exercise is to practice averting and repelling external aggression via a defensive operation, as well as combating terrorism and defending the interests of the Union State," it said.

The maneuvers involve the Russian Eastern Military District's command centers and military units, which promptly redeployed to Belarus, covering around 10,000 kilometers, and the Belarusian Armed Forces, it said.

"The maneuvers, which will be hosted by the Domanovsky, Gozhsky, Obuz-Lesnovsky, Brestsky, and Osipovichsky ranges and some other areas in the Republic of Belarus, will focus on strengthening state border defenses to prevent any penetration by armed militant groups, to shut down arms and ammunition smuggling channels, and to search for, block and neutralize mock enemy armed formations and sabotage and reconnaissance groups," the ministry said.

The Baranovichi, Luninets, Lida, and Machulishchi airfields will be used during the exercise as well.

"The first stage of the check of the Union State's rapid response forces saw the redeployment and formation of groups of forces in endangered sectors, where crucial state and military facilities were placed under guard and steps were taken to bolster the defense of the state air border as part of the joint regional air defense system of Belarus and Russia," it said.

During the Russian group's redeployment to Belarus ahead of the drills, the capabilities of transport infrastructure to deliver Armed Forces personnel were evaluated, the ministry said.

Some units of the Russian Eastern Military District and their military hardware have arrived in Belarus for the maneuvers, the Russian military said. According to official reports, S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems, a battalion of Pantsir-S short-range missile systems, Sukhoi Su-35 fourth-generation multirole fighter jets, and Su-25SM attack planes have been redeployed to Belarus.

The maneuvers are taking place against the backdrop of the crisis in Russia-NATO relations. The United States, other NATO countries and Ukraine claim that Russia has massed troops near the Ukrainian border and could be preparing to invade Ukraine.