Russian, Serbian Troops Head to Belarus for Joint Military Exercises

Troops scheduled to arrive on September 10

Update: Serbia has announced they will withdraw from Belarus at the insistence of the European Union. The Defense Ministry called it “enormous and undeserved pressure.”

According to the Belarussian Defense Ministry, troops from Russia and Serbia will be arriving in the country on September 10. They will join Belarus’ own military to take part in a six-day joint military exercise.

Details are still scant, but the timing of the exercise is likely to be used by the Lukashenko government to claim solidarity with the other two countries amid the ongoing protests and disputes over last month’s election.

It is unlikely that the exercises are anything to do with the protests, as multi-national exercises tend to be planned months in advance. That Russia and Serbia are not backing out may not be an insignificant sign, however.

The exercise comes not long after recent NATO exercises near the Russian frontier.  Again, exercises taking place close to one another are not necessarily by design, and can simply be a coincidence because this area is the focus for both sides.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.