Russian S-400s reach Belarus for ‘training exercise’
Satellite imagery released by US firm Maxar Technologies on 5 February confirmed that Russia has sent an S-400 SAM battery and other equipment into Belarus.
Maxar identified an S-400 system at Luninets Air Base, approximately 100km from the border with Ukraine, along with 15 Su-25 ground attack aircraft, 9K720 Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles and multiple launch rocket systems near Yelsk, about 25km from the Ukrainian frontier.
Russian state-run news agency Interfax reported on 21 January that Russia is sending two S-400 SAM battalions to Belarus, ostensibly to participate in Exercise Union Resolve 2022 from 10-20 February.
On 3 February, the Russian MoD announced the arrival in Belarus of an S-400 system from the Eastern Military District.
In Union Resolve 2022, the MoD claimed, the S-400s with their Russian crews ‘will carry out engineering equipment and camouflage of launch positions, maintenance of equipment and take up combat duty on air defence as part of the unified regional air defence system of Belarus and Russia’.
Union Resolve is not the first joint exercise between Russia and its client state Belarus. However, NATO has described the ongoing build-up in Belarus as Russia’s biggest deployment there since the Cold War, and informed Western sources believe the SAM battalions would be used to support a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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