Growling At NATO, Russian ‘SA-21 Growler’ Delivered To Belarus Will Boost Joint Air Defense – Foreign Ministry

Russian S-400 (SA-21 Growler) air defense systems and Iskander missile systems supplied to Belarus will increase the effectiveness of joint air defense, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin told Sputnik.

“In particular, the Belarusian armed forces received the latest Russian weapons – the S-400 air defense systems and short-range ballistic missile systems Iskander,” Galuzin said.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday confirmed that Minsk had put Russia-supplied air defense and missile systems on combat duty. “This should improve the combat capability of the Belarusian army and the efficiency of the unified Russian-Belarusian air defense system,” Galuzin emphasized

Earlier, the Russian troops in the Khabarovsk Territory conducted exercises using the long and medium-range S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system (SAM), according to a statement from the Eastern Military District (VVO).

In a statement, the district said that service members of the Air Force’s anti-aircraft missile regiment and the VVO’s Air Defense performed training exercises on the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system to fend off an enemy air raid. 

“Anti-aircraft gunners fulfilled the standards for the deployment of the S-400, as well as the search, detection, classification, and tracking of training targets,” the district added. 

Representatives from the Air Force headquarters and the Air Defense Association highlighted that such training is required to keep the complexes’ calculations at a high level of combat readiness.

During the exercise, the crew practiced firing training (electronic) missiles after getting a signal of a hostile enemy aircraft. It should be mentioned that the flight of the “enemy” aviation was simulated using equipment of the anti-aircraft missile system. 

The S-400 Triumf air defense system is frequently referred to as the SA-21 Growler in NATO circles and is widely considered one of the most effective air defense systems. The system can counter a wide range of threats and has an engagement range of about 250 miles. 

The news comes as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko declared that the country’s S-400 air defense systems and Iskander missiles, which it received from Russia, have been placed “on combat service.”

Vladimir Putin visited Minsk on December 19, and Alexander Lukashenko made the announcement during their meeting there. For years, Lukashenko has urged the Kremlin to give his country Iskander missile systems. 

Военнослужащие боевого расчета возле зенитного ракетного комплекса С-400 Триумф - РИА Новости, 1920, 21.12.2022
Military personnel of the combat crew near the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system.

He has stated that this would enable the Belarusian military to increase its strike range from approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) to 500 kilometers (311 miles). The distance between Minsk and the capital of NATO member Poland, which has had poor relations with Belarus, is approximately 546 kilometers (339 miles).

By holding a referendum in February of last year, the Belarusian administration was able to change the constitution’s declaration of the country as a “nuclear-free zone” and “neutral” state.

The referendum’s outcome, which most international organizations have decried as fraudulent, permits Russia to position more nuclear weapons along NATO’s eastern frontier. 

Nevertheless, the Institute for the Study of War, a US think tank, stated in recent research that Lukashenko leverages the rhetoric of protecting Belarusian borders against the West and NATO to avoid participation in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

On February 17, experts wrote that Lukashenko made similar hints regarding the future deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus in response to alleged Western aggression. 

Russia Shows Joint Maneuvers Of The Russian And Belarusian Military

A video of military exercises between the Russian and Belarusian armed forces at the Brest training facility was made public on December 21 by the Russian Ministry of Defense. 

The ministry said that the joint regional troop grouping of the Armed Forces of Russia and Belarus continues to coordinate combat operations. 

The video that was made public depicts the joint firing of anti-tank missiles and cannons by Russian and Belarusian BMP-2 operators, as well as building storming drills and coordinated movements by columns of armored vehicles on the march.

“At the Brest training ground, Belarusian and Russian servicemen continue to conduct joint combat training sessions: they work out elements of tactical, fire, medical, engineering training, as well as driving combat vehicles on rough terrain,” the Russian military department described. 

BMP-2 – Wikipedia

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, there is rapid combat coordination among Russian military members of the regional force group in Belarus. The Western Military District’s service members work on honing their capabilities seven days a week, day and night.

Meanwhile, Putin’s recent visit to Minsk raised concerns in Ukraine about the extent of the Belarusian military’s role in the invasion. In a post-talks press conference, Putin and Lukashenko barely mentioned Ukraine while praising the advantages of defense and economic cooperation. 

Both Putin and Lukashenko quickly downplay the possibility of Russia annexing or absorbing Belarus. “Russia has no interest in absorbing anyone,” Putin said.

Ned Price, a spokesperson for the US State Department, said the comment should be viewed as the “height of irony” given that it was made by the same leader who is currently trying to engulf his other peaceful neighbor brutally.