Report of Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko heard out a report of Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin on 18 January.

“We have recently agreed that you together with the Russian Federation will finalize the scenario and details of the future Belarus-Russia army exercise Zapad 2021. This is symbolic for me, because as a young officer I took part in one of such exercises of the Soviet Armed Forces in Vitebsk Oblast to practice new methods of warfare,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President noted that, having studied the plan of the upcoming exercise, he saw how far the armed forces had advanced. “Nevertheless, I would ask you to inform me whether the details of this exercise have been agreed with the Russian Federation, what the plan is. The decision to conduct this exercise was taken by the Russian President and me a long time ago,” the head of state said.

Another five-year period of the Armed Forces modernization was completed in 2020. Aleksandr Lukashenko asked the defense minister about the achieved results. “First of all, we agreed to advance our army to a certain level. Secondly, we were to significantly improve the physical infrastructure: military towns, garrisons, and so on. And thirdly, weapons,” the President noted. The head of state added that, in general, he was informed about the work in each of the areas, therefore, he was primarily interested in the Armed Forces development prospects. In addition, Aleksandr Lukashenko touched upon personnel decisions.

According to Viktor Khrenin, the analysis of operational and combat training in the neighboring countries suggests that such training has intensified. “Not only in the territory of the Baltic states and Poland, but also in the territory of Ukraine,” the minister said. According to him, these exercises seem to differ in place and time, their purposes and the troops involved. However, this all suggests that Western countries continue seeking a solution to the ‘Belarusian bulge’.

“One of the most effective measures to counter the growing military threat is strategic action. Based on this, we, together with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, have developed a conception for the Zapad 2021 strategic exercise,” Viktor Khrenin said.