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Inspection of new samples of Belarusian weapons and defense technology

5 October 2018

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko explained why instructions had been cut to develop new types of Belarus-made weapons and military hardware and to upgrade the existing hardware as he inspected new samples of Belarusian weapons and defense technology at a firing range in Ivatsevichi District on 5 October.

“We have gathered here not to flex our muscles. It is no PR stunt. This is part of our daily routine,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

The head of state recalled that in recent years independent Belarus had to upgrade and adapt its Armed Forces to the contemporary context several times. The country took into account the lessons of wars and local conflicts in the world and opportunities offered by technological progress.

“I think it is our fourth attempt to upgrade our Armed Forces. This effort covers everything, not only the army,” the President noted.

At first it was necessary to determine the size of the army in such a compact country as Belarus. The government believed that Belarus did not need an army of 250,000-300,000 and decided to cut the army personnel to some 100,000 people.  “We were forced to reduce the Armed Forces. Upgrading or developing something new was not even in question. We faced a challenge to preserve what we had inherited from the Soviet Union. Many remember that the then officials that are now seeking to get back to power started destroying everything. They sold destroyed armored vehicles prepared to be cast into NATO weapons to Germany. My decision to upgrade the army came after that havoc was over,” the President said. 

According to him, then wars broke out, including in the Middle East. Against this background, Belarus set up research teams to study the modern warfare, to understand its features. “Reforming the armed forces, we had to adapt very swiftly. We are not going to fight in the desert. We have completely different conditions. We had to adapt the army and weapons to our conditions. Then came other wars. It was the third stage. We had to set up special operations forces. We realized that there will be no front-on-front wars, that we needed high-precision weapons, specially trained forces capable to defend the country and inflict unacceptable damage on the enemy,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

“Now we see what is happening close to our border, what is happening in Syria. Studying the situation, we absolutely understand what a war, God forbid, will look like, how we should defend ourselves, what the strength of our armed forces should be. “A task was set to embark on development of new types of weapons needed for Belarus’ defense. As it takes a lot of money and resources to create something new, we had to dramatically upgrade what we had in order to keep it on the cutting edge. Not tanks, not jets, but special forces will make a difference for our Belarus,” the President noted.

“We need to be able to show up anywhere in Belarus (if something happens suddenly), destroy bandits or those who would dare to attack us and withdraw. This means speed, maneuverability. We needed to design new weapons for these troops - special ops and others,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

“We do not need aircraft carriers. We will not send our aircraft to foreign shores. We are not going to fight on the other end of the planet. We need to defend Belarus. And for that we need state-of-the-art army and weapons,” the President noted.

He also explained why the task was to design and produce arms domestically. “We are not sure we will get help if something happens. Examples abound. We have seen how some allies act. Besides Russia we have probably no one to rely on. We cannot rely even on Russia 100%. Well, today we have Putin and others. He understands us. I understand him. We somehow act together (though not always). No one knows what happens tomorrow. Therefore we need to be able to produce some basic weapons such as small arms, equipment for mobile forces, the things we can design and produce. We also should upgrade the equipment that we have,” the President said.

"Aircraft is no longer a weapon for us. The NATO radars see any plane on its takeoff. Today it is not a problem to destroy aircraft. They can do it. So can we. We can see any plane thousands of kilometers away. A plane costs $50 million. It takes one C-300 missile to destroy it,” the head of state said.

He added that aviation is important for airspace control and prompt response to threats. “We need unmanned drones, precision missiles (which we have already designed). We need to equip our special ops. If anyone dares to attack us, our forces would be able to act within the country which launches an attack on Belarus,” the President said.

The head of state noted that his orders to develop new types of weapons are carried out. A few months ago, a decision was made to get familiar with modern domestic weapons and military equipment after the country tackles some economic matters and finishes harvesting.

Alexander Lukashenko stressed that the military should be ready for warfare any time. “Since we fight no one and are not going to do this, we need to train. Otherwise we will have all kinds of weapons but will not know how to fight,” the head of state said. We need to develop both reconnaissance and strike UAVs.

The head of state was updated on the combat capability and main performance characteristics of the weapons on display. The Belarusian leader also watched an exhibition performance featuring military and special hardware.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko saw capabilities of new weapons, combat and utility vehicles made by Belarusian companies.

The head of state went to the 174th exercise area of the Air Force and Air Defense Forces. The head of state pointed out that threatening someone or launching a PR campaign was not the purpose of the occasion. “Several months ago I decided that once we are done with the economy and the harvesting campaign, we will have a look at the weapons we’ve modernized and created for modern warfare. We are military people and should be ready for war every day, frankly speaking,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

The demonstration began with modernized defense products. Alexander Lukashenko saw the combat tank T-72BME first. “In the last few months we acquired the ability to upgrade the combat tank using Belarusian resources to match the performance of modern combat tanks – T-72B3 and T-90,” said Roman Golovchenko, Chairman of the State Military Industrial Committee of Belarus. The new sighting complex uses heat imaging and various sensors. The tank’s armor has been reinforced. The tank has been fitted with a more powerful engine. Apart from that, T-72BME can fire guided missiles.

Alexander Lukashenko noted: “Certainly, we could buy a T-90 tank but it costs a huge deal of money -- $11 million. And it may live less than three minutes in a combat situation. This is why we have to upgrade the good old and reliable tank we know well up to the standards of the imported T-90.”

According to the head of state, creating a combat tank is one thing. Teaching the tank how to shoot and hit targets is as important. By saying that, the President hinted at the not so good performance of the Belarusian team during the latest tank biathlon (the Russian and Chinese teams beat the Belarusian one in the total score during the International Army Games 2018). “Did they drive different tanks? Did they have a different kind of people? Are our people dumber? They are not. Third place means is not a victory,” believes Alexander Lukashenko.

The crew, which drove the Belarusian tank during the International Army Games 2018 and demonstrated the upgraded vehicle on 5 October, explained that a technical malfunction had made their victory impossible. They lost too much time switching from one combat tank to another.

“Well, at least you didn’t lose the time in a genuine combat situation,” noted Alexander Lukashenko. He wondered when the crew would be able to win the first place. The tank crewmen did not give loud-mouthed promises but assured the head of state that they are always intent on doing their best.

The head of state went to see the armored personnel carrier Cayman next. Just like the upgraded T72 tank the APC was painted in colors of sand and therefore stood out from the crowd. The manufacturer explained that it is the color that the foreign customer wants.

The Belarusian army already uses Cayman APCs. Another 30 APCs will be made for the Belarusian army by July 2019. They will be used by recon units, special operations forces, and mechanized brigades.

“So the vehicle turned out to be very good and necessary?” asked Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov said that Cayman APCs had demonstrated excellent performance during trials. Later on the head of state will see how such armored personnel carriers can destroy targets on the go with the first shot.

The unique Belarusian radio warfare station Groza is designed to fight unmanned aerial vehicles. It can make drones go off course and can take over their control links.

“So you can protect any airfield, for instance, from drones? We don’t have to shoot them down?” asked the head of state and got a positive answer. “A good weapon. We should develop this technology. For us, for defending against aerial vehicles. If it affects aircraft, too, it is a superweapon.”

A rifle-sized version of the radio warfare station Groza is designed to fight multicopters. Military specialists jokingly dubbed it “a blaster”.

Demonstrating the RW rifle, an army specialist easily took control over a quadcopter circling nearby. “A good weapon. We need it!” opined the President.

Alexander Lukashenko also saw a number of other Belarusian UAVs of various sizes and for various purposes. Some of them are used for reconnaissance. Other ones are designed to destroy the enemy as kamikaze or as bombers.

The robot complex Berserk has been fitted with two four-barrel machine guns and can destroy UAVs or the enemy’s manpower. The robot can be controlled from a distance of up to 5km. Apart from that, the robot can operate on its own using a predetermined battle plan.

“For instance, this firing range can be protected by one or several robots. They will be able to control the perimeter,” the manufacturer said. “We are going to upgrade it further. We would like to add acoustic recognition ability.”

Then Alexander Lukashenko saw Belarus-made sniper rifles, regular rifles, assault rifles, and pistols. More effort has yet to be poured into their production in Belarus.

“Well done. When you start making your weapons, when you polish the final product and the army says they are as good as Kalashnikovs, then I will be grateful,” said the Belarusian leader.

After getting familiar with technical specifications of the weapons, the head of state decided to see them in action. The commander-in-chief saw combat capabilities of some of them.

Alexander Lukashenko shared his impressions with mass media afterwards. “You saw those kamikaze [drones]. They were not totally accurate but the explosion was close and can kill even an armored vehicle,” said the head of state. “This is why I see that the Belarusian defense industry has done a lot over the course of two years. It’s been even less than two years since I gave instructions to do it.”

Alexander Lukashenko made it clear that hardware is not the most important thing. Even bleeding-edge hardware needs trained personnel to operate it. “The most important thing for me is not the fact we’ve done well and what we’ve created here. The main conclusion is we are on the right track. We are going to advance along this avenue: our own firearms, our own munitions, unmanned aerial vehicles, upgraded vehicles, armored vehicles, Cayman NPCs, Volat trucks, which we’ve created in Belarus using our own resources,” said the President.

He singled out the robotized weapon platform Berserk. “Outstanding precision. This robot is a good piece of hardware. We are going to manufacture them, improve them, and use as part of the army. Foreign customers already want to buy them,” stated the head of state.

Independent production and upgrade of weapons and military hardware is of paramount importance for any country, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he spoke to the media .

“The head of state emphasized the importance of developing new types of Belarusian weapons and upgrading the existing military hardware by own efforts. “Independent production and upgrade is a number one priority for any country,” he said.

Alexander Lukashenko supported his point by the example of Russia. “No other issue is more important for the Russian President, although they inherited a substantial legacy from the Soviet Union. However, they bought a lot to stay on the cutting edge. Now the number one goal for Russia is to reduce weapons import to zero. For example, having closest relations with us, building the common Union State, they produce vehicles to transport nuclear missiles at KAMAZ [similar to what Belarus’ MZKT manufactures],” the Belarusian leader said.

The Belarusian President informed that he had discussed this matter with Vladimir Putin and the Russian leader noted that Russia wants to become self-reliant in this matter. “He put it straight: ok, today Belarus has Lukashenko, the government and so on [Belarus is willing to promote cooperation with Russia], we buy from you, but in the future we should be absolutely self-reliant, which is particularly important as far as nuclear weapons are concerned,” Alexander Lukashenko shared the details of his conversation with the Russian President.

The head of state noted that the same task for set for Belarus, i.e. to independently produce certain types of weapons needed to defend the country. Among them are, first of all, fire arms that can be distributed among a great portion of population in a war time.  “God forbid, but if there is a war, we will provide every family with weapons. And we will defend our territory. However, to do this, we should produce our own [arms],” the President noted.

However, civilians will be involved in the defense effort only as a last resort, Alexander Lukashenko said. “The army should be well trained, well-manned and well-armed,” he said.

Therefore, the President believes that Belarus does not need aircraft carriers, strategic bombers and military hardware like the ones used far beyond the country’s border. “We need solely defense weapons that will be used only on our territory to inflict unacceptable damage on those who will want to fight with us. These are high-precision missiles with a range of up to 300-350 km. We have this all,” the President noted.

According to Alexander Lukashenko, drones are among the most relevant new products of the domestic defense industry. It is also important to be able to upgrade the existing military hardware. “A lot has been done in this regard; however, we still have a lot to do. You have seen these Kamikaze drones [special-purpose drones] that were not very precise, but an explosion took place nearby, which can be enough to destroy even armored vehicles. Therefore I see that over the past two years (actually I set a task to develop it less than two years ago), the defense industry has gone a long way,” the President said.

Alexander Lukashenko emphasized that machinery is not the most important thing, because even the most advanced machines should be operated by well-trained people. “They should be trained. The hardware is good. When we have time, we will hold these training sessions again. Kamikaze drones need good operators. However, it is not certain that we will use Kamikaze drones often,” the Belarusian leader noted.

According to the president, as far as UAVs are concerned, a decision was made to work together instead of setting up many centers. “We need to unite efforts and to develop the efficient drone that we need. Our ISR drones are good and we have learned to use them. The matter has been settled with developing more powerful drones that will be able to handle one tonne and more. After all, there is demand for that. We will produce them for domestic needs, for our army and for export,” the head of state said.

Alexander Lukashenko reemphasized that the most important thing is to teach people to use the equipment. “What matters most for me is that we are on the right track. This is the way we will be going: fire arms and their ammunition, drones, upgraded equipment, Cayman armored vehicle, Volat vehicle which we have designed and produced here in Belarus,” the President said.

One of the reporters asked Alexander Lukashenko about the prestige of army service and what needs to be done to improve it. “I get rather blunt when I speak about it. Because it triggers me not only as the head of state but also a man,” said the Belarusian leader.The quality of army personnel training suffers as well as the education of young Belarusian men due to a large number of legal options, which delay their army conscription. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko made the relevant statement while talking to mass media.cording to Alexander Lukashenko, drones are among the most relevant new products of the domestic defense industry. It is also important to be able to upgrade the existing military hardware. “A lot has been done in this regard; however, we still have a lot to do. You have seen these Kamikaze drones [special-purpose drones] that were not very precise, but an explosion took place nearby, which can be enough to destroy even armored vehicles. Therefore I see that over the past two years (actually I set a task to develop it less than two years ago), the defense industry has gone a long way,” the President said.

Alexander Lukashenko emphasized that machinery is not the most important thing, because even the most advanced machines should be operated by well-trained people. “They should be trained. The hardware is good. When we have time, we will hold these training sessions again. Kamikaze drones need good operators. However, it is not certain that we will use Kamikaze drones often,” the Belarusian leader noted.

According to the President, as far as UAVs are concerned, a decision was made to work together instead of setting up many centers. “We need to unite efforts and to develop the efficient drone that we need. Our ISR drones are good and we have learned to use them. The matter has been settled with developing more powerful drones that will be able to handle one tonne and more. After all, there is demand for that. We will produce them for domestic needs, for our army and for export,” the head of state said.

Alexander Lukashenko reemphasized that the most important thing is to teach people to use the equipment. “What matters most for me is that we are on the right track. This is the way we will be going: fire arms and their ammunition, drones, upgraded equipment, Cayman armored vehicle, Volat vehicle which we have designed and produced here in Belarus,” the President said.

Alexander Lukashenko went on saying that the conscription of about 80% of the young men, who are supposed to be drafted for the Belarusian army, is delayed due to various legal reasons. “Nearly 80% get legal delays. Some due to education, some due to family circumstances. We are the ones, who have decided these men cannot join the army due to legal reasons. It is not normal. Men as a class are dying out, you know,” he said.

The head of state pointed out that many Belarusian men will not know how to use the weapons they will be issued if a military conflict happens. “We are very serious about it. This year and the next half a year we will have to come up with ways to train men how to protect themselves and their families let alone the motherland. We are the ones who have made a mess out of it and are surprised that we lack military personnel somewhere,” said the head of state.

Speaking about the prestige of the army service, Alexander Lukashenko noted that army service is still a matter of honor for many people. However, sometimes due to individual negative facts and the noise surrounding them one may get the impression that Belarusians do not want to be drafted and are even afraid of it. “Don’t be afraid. We will never phase out the practice. Protecting the motherland is our destiny, particularly the destiny of men,” stressed the head of state. The President pointed out that as far as the army service prestige is concerned, ideologists could work harder and the army itself could do more starting with the first steps of the conscripts after joining the army.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has harshly criticized the bill on combating domestic abuse as he spoke to the media.

“This is nonsense borrowed, first of all, from the West. Don’t worry, we will proceed exclusively from our own interests, our Belarusian, Slavonic traditions and our experience,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

“Fighting domestic violence has become a trend in the West. They will soon have no families at all: a man marries a man. There is no one to have children. And we borrow some family norms from them,” the President noted.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs was in charge of working on the domestic violence bill. The head of state suggested involving other stakeholders, first of all, local authorities, NGOs, the government, the Belarus President Administration. However, the opinion of the police should also be taken into consideration, the President emphasized.

The head of state admitted that he is not in favor of punishing children. However, he believes that sometimes it is unavoidable. “We should proceed from the situation that we have. As they say spare the rod and spoil the child. All children are different, of course. I often punished my elder son Viktor. His younger brother Dima saw it and made a note of it. The youngest son, he is fourteen now, has never been punished. He did not give reasons to,” the President said.

“It is our tradition, our life and we will bring up children the way we should. We will keep in mind the proposals of the police. We might as well introduce amendments to the existing laws instead of passing a new law. There is a respective presidential directive that covers these issues. I am glad that the document aroused public debate and that some nonsense incorporated into this bill caused uproar. Showing their outrage people draw my attention to this issue. Therefore, it will be the way we want it to be based on our traditions and experience,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

The domestic violence bill contains many new norms that have been vehemently discussed by the public for several months already. Among the most controversial proposals was the norm on “economic violence” when spouses are defined as just partners, not a husband and a wife. Just as controversial are proposals to extend the definition of domestic violence to include parents’ refusal to give pocket money to children or attempts to force children to clean up after themselves. 

I am happy that my children have not joined the ranks of gilded youth, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko told the media.

“With my kids I use different approaches. Sometimes I can be tough. I am President, so, probably, children keep this in mind and try not to upset me,” Alexander Lukashenko said. “I am not an example to follow in children upbringing. My children do understand that they cannot let their father down. I am happy that they have not grown up to become the gilded youth,” Alexander Lukashenko added.

“I think you know that I am sincere. You have never seen my children showing off or bragging anywhere. And if you happen to see, then tell me. My reaction will be swift. I am teaching them to live like regular people,” he said.

The head of state said that each of his elder sons takes care of an educational institution and provides them assistance before the start of the school year. The younger son has also supported his schoolmates. Several dozens of them were provided with school supplies and uniforms. “We donated the money that he earned during the summer, his elder brothers also pitched in a little. I contributed two monthly salaries, my people also did their bit, and as a result we donated this sum and helped fifty students. It is the way he learns: help those in need if you can,” Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said.

He recollected his school years when schoolchildren carried textbooks in scarves because there was no money to buy a rucksack. “We need to give back and to teach children by such examples,” the head of state said.

The President believes that the child must not only go to school to study but also have some hobbies. “Indeed, he needs to learn the curriculum, be literate. But he must also go in for sports to grow into a nice man so that he could raise his kids in the future and be healthy. You don't have to be a world champion if this is not the goal that you pursue. You just have to go in for sports. If you have a soft spot for art or music, then you must pursue them too,” Alexander Lukashenko said.


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