BREST: In reclusive Belarus, only a few kilometres from the EU frontier, particular forces within the military of Kremlin ally Alexander Lukashenko are simulating forest fight whereas paratroopers close by practise leaping from plane.
The strongman has dominated his ex-Soviet nation with an iron fist for almost three a long time and for years flirted with the West earlier than backing Russia’s intervention in Ukraine final 12 months.
He allowed the Kremlin to make use of his nation as a launching pad for its navy operation in opposition to Kyiv final February and fears have been constructing since that his troops might additionally intervene.
“We’re able to fulfil any duties, together with probably the most tough ones if now we have to,” Vadim Lukashevich, deputy commander of the Particular Operations Forces of Belarus, informed AFP.
The troops outdoors town of Brest had been working the drills as a part of a tightly managed press tour of the thirty eighth Separate Guards Air Assault Brigade.
And their coaching floor lay simply 4 kilometres (two miles) from EU and NATO member Poland and 50 kilometres from Ukraine.
A portrait of Lukashenko – in energy since 1994 and carrying a navy uniform – held on a banner as troopers educated behind it.
“There isn’t any extra necessary job as we speak than to defend our achievements, our folks and our land,” was the strongman’s quote printed subsequent to his picture.
He’s internet hosting an undeclared variety of Russian troops however Lukashenko has promised to not ship his forces – estimated at between 60,000 and 70,000 – over the southern border to Ukraine.
‘We are going to defend our Belarus’
He has additionally dismissed hypothesis that Russia and Belarus might extra deeply combine and held again on recognising Russia’s annexation of a number of territories in Ukraine.
However he has nonetheless repeatedly stated that Minsk must be prepared for any flip of occasions.
In Brest, Belarusian navy officers toed a cautious line, unwilling to touch upon the Ukraine battle.
“The scenario is steady,” Lukashevich stated.
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“However we’re preparing as a result of now we have to be able to fulfil our duties in any sharply altering circumstances.”
Among the officers stated their military has benefited from the Russian troop presence, getting higher coaching.
Through the fastidiously choreographed tour, AFP was proven the barracks the place the troopers reside.
The green-and-red Belarusian flag adorned the partitions, in addition to patriotic slogans and portraits of Lukashenko and different generals.
Between a room of rows of metallic beds was a classroom that officers stated was used for numerous actions, together with “ideological classes”.
Belarus, which retains a lot of its Soviet legacy and establishments, has been closed to overseas media, notably within the wake of historic anti-government demonstrations in 2020.
On the would-be battlefield, troopers practised touchdown on knee-bent legs from a parachute. In addition they took half in simulated combating in a forested setting.
They burdened that Minsk is “peace-loving” and had been eager to emphasize the “stability” that they stated authorities guarantee.
“Belarusians are peaceable folks. But when now we have to we’ll defend our Belarus,” Lukashevich stated.
“We won’t quit our Beloved,” he added, utilizing a phrase appropriated by the federal government after the protests.
“We didn’t assault anybody,” one other official stated. “But when anybody assaults us, then…”