As Russian forces began to mass in Belarus along Ukraine’s borders, in January the Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, Colonel-General Alexander Fomin announced that the presidents of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus had agreed to conduct unscheduled military exercises and assess their readiness to ensure military security, as well as to practice various options for joint actions “to neutralise threats and stabilise the situation” on the borders of the Union State of Russia and Belarus.
From February 10 to February 20, the joint Exercise Union Courage 2022 is being held to practice tasks of suppressing and repelling external aggression during a defensive operation, as well as countering terrorism and protecting the interests of the Union State. Measures will be taken to strengthen the protection of the State Border to prevent the penetration of armed groups of militants, to block the channels for the delivery of weapons and ammunition, as well as to search for, block, and destroy illegal armed formations and sabotage and reconnaissance groups of the enemy.
Also, as part of checking the functioning of the unified air defence system of the Union State, Russian Su-35s had been relocated to Belarusian territory, two divisions of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, as well as the Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile and gun company were redeployed. Russian long-range Tu-22M3s patrol in the airspace of Belarus escorted by Su-35Ss and Belarus S-30SMs and crews of Russian Su-25s performed combat training tasks to detect camouflaged objects simulating control points, armoured and automotive equipment of the mock enemy.
Russia claimed that the number of participants and major weapons in the exercises would not exceed the parameters determined by Vienna Document 2011.
Prior to the exercise in Belarus, in Crimea combat crews of Pantsir-S air defence missile systems of Russia’s Southern Military District (SMD), together with the air defence units of the Black Sea Fleet, practiced the interception of low-flying and low-speed targets. In total, more than 30 air targets were destroyed during the exercise.
In addition, troops carried out measures to change firing positions and camouflage new positional areas, and also repelled an attack by a mock enemy sabotage and reconnaissance group on a column of military equipment.
At the airfields of the SMD, the qualifying competitors of the Aviadarts 2022 Air Force competition had arrived, to assess their combat qualifications. Pilots perform competitive tasks with Su-25CM strike-fighters, Su-30CM multi-role fighters, Su-34 fighter-bombers, Ka-52 ‘Alligator’ and Mi-35 attack helicopters, as well as Mi-8AMTSH ‘Terminator’ transport and combat helicopters.
by David Oliver