From June 18-29, the Russian Black Sea port city of Novorossiysk will host the momentous “Slavic Brotherhood-2018” war games, to be participated in by paratroopers from Russia, Belarus, and Serbia.
In these maneuvers, Russia will be represented by a reinforced airborne troop battalion numbering more than 700 soldiers, as well as frontline and army aircraft and anti-air defenses and military transport aircraft. These units are from Russia’s Southern Military District, which just recently held its own war games on the border with Ukraine.
It has since been announced that these exercises will be the first testing sessions for new military vehicles and weapons in service with airborne units. 250 Belarusian paratroopers will participate.
The Slavic Brotherhood war games are being held for their fourth year. They were first held in Serbia, then Russia, then in 2017 at the Belarusian Brestsky polygon, and now again in Russia. The special trait of these exercises is that Russian, Belarusian, and Serbian soldiers form mixed units, thus making a platoon or company consist of military servicemen from all three states. Joint Belarusian-Russian-Serbian operations, particularly against anti-terrorist drills, will be worked out over the course of these exercises.
What’s more, these exercises are being held at the Raevsky training ground in the Krasnodar region, the most active phase of which will be held from June 26-28. The Krasnodar territory is part of the Southern Military District which, just recently, from June 5-8, held tactical exercises involving all land, air, and sea forces in what I called a “warning to Ukraine.” On the surface level, this is a pure coincidence, since Slavic Brotherhood was planned long ago. High-intensity exercises in all of Russia’s military districts has already long since become familiar. Following a long period of the Russian army’s decline, its combat readiness began to be restored, and is now tested fairly frequently. The most important component of this process is holding war games on various levels and combat readiness checks.
Slavic Brotherhood allows for several interrelated tasks in the military and political cooperation of Orthodox Slavic countries to be resolved. Belarus and Serbia are Russia’s closest allies, and their peoples are fraternal for Russians. Therefore, Russia has the desire to share with them its rich experience of paratrooper operations, which it has developed in real combat conditions. Russia has achieved success in creating new military equipment for airborne troops, whose capabilities will be demonstrated in these exercises alongside their Belarusian and Serbian allies.
Based on the context of the Russian defense ministry’s statement, Belarusian and Serbian paratroopers will participate in these tests as well. Or, in the very least, they will closely observe the tests and get acquainted with the new technology.
No less significant is the opportunity to demonstrate military cooperation with Russia, which is particularly important for Serbia, which finds itself surrounded in a complex and largely hostile environment.
If on political issues these three Slavic Orthodox countries have certain, sometimes sharp contradictions (such as the periodically erupting disputes between Russia and Belarus), then in military relations they enjoy much closer eye -to-eye and shoulder-to-shoulder understanding. Regular exercises only help strengthen this brotherhood in arms which, in contemporary geopolitical circumstances, is crucial.