Russian and Belarusian recon troops conducted joint assault exercises Thursday, the day that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the formation of a “law enforcement reserve” standing by in case anti-government protests escalate in Belarus.
The exercises are part of the 10-day international army games that Belarus hosts at an army base in Brest on the Polish border amid ongoing protests against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko. A unit from outside Moscow represents a team of Russian reconnaissance soldiers at the games.
“Russian and Belarusian scouts conducted an ‘assault on the building’ today, one of the most difficult exercises,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said on its website.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry said the participating teams faced the task of clearing the building that had more than 10 targets randomly scattered in hallways and rooms.
“They had to destroy the targets as quickly as possible, with two shots to the target,” it said.
Putin said Thursday that he created the reserve of Russian personnel from unknown units at Lukashenko’s request.
Lukashenko has refused calls to step down or hold new elections despite more than two weeks of sustained street demonstrations, instead accusing the opposition of attempting to “seize power” and ordering multiple war games.
On Friday, Lukashenko said that Belarus and Russia could activate a “joint grouping of armed forces” against foreign troops.
The 65-year-old strongman has accused NATO of mobilizing troops in countries neighboring Belarus in the wake of the demonstrations and ordered his military into high alert.