Today, the main stage of the joint Russia-Belarus military exercises have began, which should end on February 20 according to the plan.

Where all this will take place: at 5 training grounds – Gozhsky, Domanovsky, Obuz-Lesnovsky, Osipovichi, Brestsky, and at 4 airfields – Baranovichi, Lida, Luninets and Machulishchi (it is not on the map of Russian Ministry of Defense so we did a separate one to show it)

It is easy to see that some of the polygons are located very close to Ukrainian border – for example, the Brest training area is only 50 km away, about 1 hour drive.

At the same time – as we have already found out – they will also begin today on the territory of the Narovlya region, and potentially other “separate areas” in Belarus, as the Russian Ministry of Defense wrote about this, which may not be announced separately.

screenshot Russian Ministry of Defense website

At the same time, it is known that sudden readiness checks of other Russian troops are being carried out at the same time – for example, in the Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN). Also yet another drills are announced in the Black and Azov Seas, which experts have already call a Russia’s attempt to arrange a blockade. And the very number of Russian troops currently on the border and moving in connection with the exercises announced by the Russian Federation is considered the largest since the end of the Cold War.

Everything looks generally clear with the declared goals of the military exercises, they sound usual on paper: this is to ensure the security of the two countries, to counter threats and terrorism. But there is a question about the very way it was announced.

Now let us explain.

Usually, the start of the drills is announced sufficiently in advance, more than six months before they begin. But these were announced at the end of December last year, that is literally a month and a half before their start.

We are also know of the unprecedented amount of equipment and troops that Russia has deployed and continues to transfer to Belarus and to the Ukrainian border. There are so many of it that the European Parliament called the occupation of Belarus “possible” and called for the defense of the country and its territorial integrity and independence.

It is difficult to say about the exact number of troops that take part in the exercises. We know the number 30,000 – this is how many troops Russia has transferred to Belarus, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Russia In Russia, the number of troops is definitely considered normal – Russian Ministry of Defense on its website in each news about drills reminds that “the number of participants in the event, as well as the number of main weapons systems that fall under the Vienna Document 2011, do not exceed the parameters defined by it, which are subject to notification to Russia” .

The Vienna Document is an agreement that have a rule for countries that you should report on military activities if you have any and if at least 9,000 military personnel are involved in it. And this is only counting ground forces, the rest are not taken into account. But here’s the thing: Russia has already violated the Vienna Document, as reported by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry last April, when Russia began building up its military presence near Ukraine’s borders.

We continue to monitor Russian troops’ movement on Ukraine’s border. Should you have any information or evidence of Russian troops or equipment movement, or any other information you want to share with us, please send it to us via email [email protected] or text us on social media.