Communist Bloc Military Updates: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to stage first “post”-Soviet trilateral military drills; Russia sends more S-300 anti-missile units to Belarusian-Polish front

In September, the three most important European components of the “former” Soviet Union—Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine—will for the first time since the “collapse of communism” hold two combined military exercises. Union Shield 2011 will take place at Gorokhovetsky, in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region, and at Ushuluk, in the same country’s Astrakhan region.

On April 20, Ukrainian Defence Minister Mikhail Yezhel arrived in Minsk to participate in a joint meeting with his Russian and Belarusian counterparts, Anatoly Serdyukov and Yuri Zhadobin. Strangely, even though Ukraine was involved in the founding of and currently participates in the Commonwealth of “Independent” States, it is not officially a member of that successor organization to the USSR. Similarly, Ukraine is not a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which binds Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and all of the Central Asian republics, except Turkmenistan, in a military alliance.

“We discussed participation in the upcoming military exercise Union Shield 2011 to be held in September,” related Yezhel, adding: “We will certainly study the plan of the exercise in detail and join in. We are also interested in the experience of army reform in Belarus. We should take all the best the Union State of Russia and Belarus has to offer and use it at home.” After the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine transferred the nuclear arsenal based on its soil to Russia, the first time any country has voluntarily given up its atomic warhead stockpile.

The Union Shield 2011 maneuvers will involve about 12,000 troops, more than 50 warplanes and helicopters, and 200 pieces of military hardware.

In spite of occasional diplomatic spats, Belarus’ “ex”-communist dictator, President Alexander Lukashenko, is firmly committed to theUnion State, while Ukraine’s burgeoning “neo-Soviet” dictator, President Viktor Yanukovich, frequently enrages nationalists by snuggling up to the Kremlin. By participating in the Union State’s military component, one should be excused for asking whether Yanukovich intends to lead Ukraine into this building block of the to-be-restored Soviet Union. One should also be
excused for asking whether Union Shield 2011 is an attempt by Moscow and Minsk, with a little help this time from Kiev, to incrementally assemble a “lite” version of the Soviet Armed Forces.

During the defense ministers’ pow-wow, Serdyukov promised that Russia will deliver more S-300 anti-missile batteries to Belarus, which is on the front line with Warsaw
Pact-turned-NATO member Poland. As part of the Union State’s integrated air defense network, Belarus has deployed and placed several Russian-built S-300 air defense battalions on combat duty. Modernized versions of the S-300 (pictured above) have a maximum engagement range of up to 150 kilometers (93 miles).

“We have completed the first stage of modernization of the Belarusian S-300 air defense systems and agreed to intensify work on further deliveries of these systems to Belarus,” explained Serdyukov. “We are strengthening this network.”

In September 2009, Russia and Belarus provoked outrage among Poles by carrying out the Zapad (“West”) exercise on Belarusian territory, at which time 13,000 troops simulated a combined air and sea attack against Poland, complete with atomic weapons. According to documents obtained by Wprost, one of Poland’s leading news magazines, the Russian Air Force practiced using weapons from its nuclear arsenal, while in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which also borders Poland, Russian Ground Forces stormed a “Polish” beach and attacked a natural gas pipeline.

Zapad 2009 also involved the simulated suppression of an uprising by a national minority in Belarus. Not so coincidentally, Lukashenko’s KGB lackeys often harass the country’s Polish minority, creating strained relations with Warsaw.

After the Russian-Belarusian drill, one Pole, identified only as Ted, told Polskie Radio: “Russia has laid bare its real intentions with respect to Poland. Every Pole most now get off the fence and be counted as a patriot or a traitor.”

In a related story, on Wednesday the Russian Air Force completed a two-day large-scale strategic aviation drill that featured air-to-air missile launches and aerial refuelling operations. The exercises, which involved Soviet-era Tu-160, Tu-95, and Tu-22M3 nuclear-capable bombers, were conducted over the Baltic, North, and Black seas, doubtlessly under the watchful eye of NATO radar. Providing escort for the Russian bomber crews were MiG-29, MiG-31, and Su-27 fighter jets and Il-78 flying fuel tankers.

4 responses to “Communist Bloc Military Updates: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to stage first “post”-Soviet trilateral military drills; Russia sends more S-300 anti-missile units to Belarusian-Polish front

  1. mah29001 April 24, 2011 at 12:02 am

    I remember hearing reports of the Ukraine giving military arms to Iran…it’s quite evident to why Belarus is ignoring who might be helping those responsible in the recent blast….

  2. Pingback: WW4 File: USA to install anti-missile batteries in Romania, Kremlin vows “counter-measures”; Pravda paints Washington as “aggressor,” urges placement of Iskander missiles in Transnistria to threaten Bucharest «

  3. Pingback: WW4 File: USA to install anti-missile batteries in Romania, Kremlin vows “counter-measures”; Pravda paints Washington as “aggressor,” urges placement of Iskander missiles in Transnistria to threaten Bucharest «

  4. kantervo September 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

    With all due respect to your opinion, there is no ‘communistic’ background in the concept of forthcoming exercise Union Shield – 2011. Though Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are bound, both historically and politically by the soviet experience, there is no way that politicians or population (I consider them as separate political powers) of this countries are willing to return into communistic past by reviving some sort of the USSR. The Union State represents a trading, political and military connection between Russia and Belarus. It’s a tool of building neighborly relations, simplification of bureaucratic processes. For example, people from Belarus can freely work, study and live in Russia. The fact the Ukrainian military personnel is going to take part in the Union Shield -2011 is a positive political achievement. Certainly, no one can imagine that Ukraine will create an alliance with Russia, but it’s an experience and any experience is priceless. In the 21st century communism is not an option, especially for countries that strive to build real democracy – society where people (and not gas or oil) rule.

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