May 20 – May 26, 2024
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Belarus Joins the Second Stage of Russia’s Non-Strategic Nuclear Forces Exercises

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Belarus Joins the Second Stage of Russia’s Non-Strategic Nuclear Forces Exercises

Minsk and Moscow are reverting to the practice of nuclear war planning against NATO based on Soviet experience.

On May 23-24, Vladimir Putin visited Belarus to discuss with Alexander Lukashenka the formation of a unified defense space and the progress of synchronized exercises of non-strategic nuclear forces.

Minsk and Moscow still assert that they fully comply with international obligations on nuclear weapons and have no intentions of attacking anyone. Moreover, they claim to be merely mirroring NATO’s practice of nuclear missions, stating that similar exercises are regularly conducted by the Alliance involving countries that host American tactical nuclear weapons.

Lukashenka and Putin jointly informed the world about the synchronized exercises for practicing the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons on May 9. At that time, the Belarusian politician specified that the countries decided to synchronize the exercises — to conduct the second and third stages together.

For the second stage, the general staffs of the armed forces of Belarus and Russia are tasked with testing the forces and means of the joint regional troop group by addressing the following issues:

– Delivery of special ammunition to missile and aviation military units;
– Loading them onto launch platforms, mounting on aircraft;
– Covert deployment of missile divisions of the “Iskander” and “Polonez” tactical complexes to designated positions;
– Conducting missile strikes to repel a potential attack on Belarus;
– Preparing aviation units of Su-25 frontline attack aircraft for operations with special ammunition to support defending troops and inflict unacceptable damage on the enemy.

The second stage is conducted against a general operational-strategic backdrop, including the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons by Russian troops. Operational intelligence for Minsk is supported by military units from the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts, as well as forces and assets of the Baltic Fleet stationed in the Kaliningrad region.

From the Russian side, personnel from missile units of the Southern Military District and aviation units of the Russian Aerospace Forces are participating in the second stage. They practice:

– Training and combat tasks for obtaining special ammunition for the “Iskander” operational-tactical missile complex;
– Arming missile carriers with these munitions;
– Covert advancement to a designated positioning area to prepare for missile launches;
– Equipping aviation means of destruction with special warheads;
– Flights of aviation units to designated patrol areas.

Thus, Minsk and Moscow largely reproduce the practical experience of nuclear war planning from the times of the Soviet Union. Within this framework, an analog of a nuclear strike planning group against the enemy has been created from Russian and Belarusian representatives of the command of the Regional Troop Group (RTG). Additionally, in the planning process, nuclear strike zones are delineated between the RTG and the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, as was envisaged between the command of the front (military district) and the headquarters of the Supreme Command of the USSR. Therefore, the exercise involves the RTG as well as the Southern, Leningrad, and Moscow military districts of Russia.

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