TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club(YJC)_The move is being described as “unprecedented” by British defence specialists, in view of the fact Belarus is a close ally of Russia.
Unprecedented deployment by UK @RoyalMarines to Belarus (which neighbours Russia).— Deborah Haynes (@haynesdeborah) March 3, 2020
30 members of 42 Commando are on 2-weeks of cold weather training with Belarusian military, dubbed Exercise Winter Partisan. It’s largest ever contingent of UK personnel sent to train in Belarus https://t.co/VytvqF8UUp
According to a statement by the British government, the marines will conduct “cold weather training” on a two-week exercise alongside Belarusian forces.
The exercise, codenamed Winter Partisan, will involve “integrated” teams of British Royal Marines and Belarusian armed forces sharing “experience and expertise”.
The development is unprecedented as it involves the largest deployment of members of the British armed forces to Belarus, which is culturally, politically and strategically aligned to Russia.
A prominent Belarusian journalist tweeted that "joint drills" of Royal Marines and Belarus armed forces "had never happened before".
Joint drills of Royal Marines and Belarus armed forces in Belarus. Never happened before. pic.twitter.com/fW09N3uLVW— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) March 2, 2020
Exercise Winter Partisan appears to be part of a broader British plan of cultivating the Belarusian armed forces.
Last summer, a small number of Belarusian troops were deployed to Wales where they participated in Exercise Urban Ranger, alongside the Royal Irish Regiment (an infantry regiment in the British army).
It is not clear if the British deployment to Belarus has been coordinated with Nato. Conversely, nor is it clear if Belarus has liaised with its Russian ally as to the desired outcome pursuant to training alongside the British armed forces.
At any rate, powerful political and military factions in the Russian Federation are likely to view the British deployment as unwelcome, if not potentially hostile.
The deployment will inevitably raise fears in some Russian quarters of Nato’s insidious eastward expansion.