Russia, Belarus to hold Union Shield drills far away from EU borders — top brass

The decision is taken to avoid the escalation of tension in Europe

Russia and Belarus will hold their Union Shield 2019 military exercise deep inside Russia’s territory and far away from the EU borders, Chief of the Belarusian General Staff, First Deputy Defense Minister Major-General Oleg Belokonev said on Wednesday.

“Although NATO’s Allied Forces have boosted the number of military drills in Eastern Europe near the borders of the [Russia-Belarus] Union State, the Union Shield 2019 joint drills will take place deep inside the territory of the Russian Federation and not at practice ranges near the borders,” the chief of the Belarusian General Staff told a press briefing on the upcoming maneuvers.

This decision was taken to avoid the escalation of tension in Europe, he stressed.

“This has been done on purpose, in order to avoid the escalation of the situation in Europe, which once again confirms the desire of Belarus and Russia to reduce tensions in the region,” he pointed out.

The upcoming Union Shield 2019 operational exercise will conclude the two-year cycle of the joint training of the Russian and Belarusian troops and is of planned nature, the chief of Belarus’ General Staff said.

In accordance with the decision by the heads of the two states, the drills are held once every two years alternately on the territory of Russia and Belarus, the general stated.

The exercise’s scenario takes into account the analysis of possible threats to the Union State and the risks of an armed conflict, he pointed out.

“Practice shows that, as a rule, everything begins from operations by terrorists, separatists or illegal armed formations that get external support of third forces. Precisely this scenario will be used during the upcoming exercise,” the Belarusian general stressed.

Union Shield 2019 exercise

The numerical strength of the troops and military hardware that will be involved in the upcoming military exercise “does not exceed the level that has to be observed in compliance with various arms control treaties,” the general said.

“The Union Shield 2019 exercise is set to involve about 12,000 troops, up to 950 weapon systems, and also up to 70 aircraft and helicopters, about which the Russian side has timely notified the OSCE member states under the 2011 Vienna document,” he reported.

Belarus will use over 4,000 personnel, more than 30 tanks, 80 armored combat vehicles, about 50 multiple launch rocket systems, guns and mortars, as well as around 15 aircraft and helicopters at the joint maneuvers in Russia, he noted.

The troops will be accomplishing a wide range of assignments during the joint drills — from providing cover for the state border and fighting illegal armed formations to conducting defensive operations and stabilizing the situation, the Belarusian general said.

Before the Union Shield 2019 drills kick off, special tactical exercises will have to be held for engineering units from the Russian and Belarusian armies, along with an instructional methods exercise with the commanding and directing staff and a general instructional exercise, he added.

The Union Shield 2019 operational exercise will take place at the Mulino range in the Nizhny Novgorod Region on September 13-19.

Belarusian army units nearly ready for Union Shield 2019 exercise

Units of the Northwestern Operational Command and special operations forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus are about to finish preparations for the Belarusian-Russian army exercise Union Shield 2019, representatives of the Belarusian Defense Ministry told. The units are now in the field polishing their skills of loading and unloading hardware to and from railway trains. They are also practicing the driving of combat vehicles, including across water obstacles and at night. Final readiness inspections and the relocation of the troops to the exercise area will be the next step. The army exercise is scheduled to take place in the Mulino exercise area of the Western Military District of the Russian army in Nizhny Novgorod on 13-19 September. It will represent the final stage in the two-year cycle of joint combat training of Belarusian and Russian army units.

“Union Shield-2019” exercise, as usual, are open and defensive

The Russian and Belarusian military will work out the fight against illegal armed groups, as well as defensive actions at the joint “Union Shield-2019” exercise, which will be held in Nizhny Novgorod region in September. It was said by Colonel-General Alexander Zhuravlev.

“We will carry out practical actions to free settlements from illegal armed groups,” Zhuravlev said.

He added that Russian troops have real experience in the liberation of settlements without the use of military force after the operation in Syria. The exercises, he said, will be held almost around the clock – both day and night maneuvers are planned.

In total, it is planned to involve about 12 thousand military personnel, including from the Russian Armed Forces – up to 8 thousand, from the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus – over 4 thousand.

The exercises involve up to 950 units of military equipment, including more than 230 tanks, 240 artillery systems, as well as up to 70 aircraft.

The bulk of the equipment will be used from the Russian side – about 200 tanks, 360 armored vehicles, up to 190 multiple launch rocket systems, guns and mortars and 55 combat aircraft and helicopters.

It is fundamentally important that the Russian-Belarusian exercises, as usual, are open and defensive. The number of troops, involved in exercises, does not exceed the permissible norms established by international agreements.

Namely, the number of participants in the exercises is no more than
13 thousand, so that why maneuvers are not subject to mandatory international monitoring, according with the Vienna document “On measures to build confidence and security.”

It’s remarkable, that first and foremost, the Union Shield-2019 drills are solely of defensive nature. No one plans any offensive actions as compared to the NATO military exercises. No one is doing as a response to another drills, but as a response to the threats which exist today for Russia and Belarus. And it’s a big regret that these threats grow up every year and every day.

Military drill involving NATO countries, Georgia wraps up

A multinational military exercise to better meld Georgia’s armed forces with that of NATO’s came to an end on Friday.

More than 3,000 military servicemen from 14 NATO member and partner countries, including the United States, Britain, Latvia and Norway, had participated “Agile Spirit 2019” since July 27, according to the Georgian Defense Ministry.

“Such exercises make Georgia’s NATO membership even more realistic, and we are getting closer to our declared principle, to see more NATO in Georgia and more Georgia in NATO,” said Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze at the closing ceremony.

The joint exercise had helped to further strengthen the interoperability of Georgia with the United States and its partner countries and to maintain a stable and secure environment in the Black Sea region, Bakhtadze said in his speech.

The drill was conducted under the leadership of the West Command of Georgian Defense Forces and the U.S. European Command in three locations: Senaki, Orpolo and Vaziani fire ranges. Enditem

Russia posts missiles near the border

Russian officials have disclosed that they’ve moved a coastal missile system to a new location on Russia’s Sredny Peninsula in the far north. The new location is so close to Norway that it can be seen on clear days from Vardø, the northeastern Norwegian town that’s also home to a controversial radar and surveillance system run by Norway’s intelligence agency.

The placement, first reported by the Kirkenes-based Barents Observer, is believed to be another response by the Russians to Norway’s and NATO’s recent military exercises and the radar system at Vardø. Russia doesn’t like an increased American presence in Norway, especially in Northern Norway, where US troops have been training with NATO troops. State broadcaster NRK has also reported the arrival of some US military personnel and their families in Vardø.

Russia has announced some major military exercises of its own, and will be training in four separate locations in Arctic waters off Norway next week.