Russia has transferred at least three Su-30SM fighter jets to Baranovichi airfield amidst increased air patrolling by NATO along the borders of Belarus.
Already strained relations between Belarus and the West nosedived following the forced landing of a Ryanair commercial aircraft on May 23 to arrest dissident blogger Roman Protasevich and his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega who have not been heard of since.
"Su-30SM aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces arrived at the Baranovichi airfield to form a combat training center for joint training of the Air Force and Air Defense Forces of Belarus and Russia. It is planned that the aviators will carry out joint combat duty to protect the air borders of the Union State," Belarusian Defense Ministry announced on their official telegram channel.
From the photographs shared by the MoD, it appears Russia relocated at least three Su-30SM fighters.
In March this year, ministers of defense of Russia and Belarus Sergei Shoigu and Viktor Khrenin agreed to create three training centers for joint training of military personnel, one of which will be based in Belarus. These centers will be deployed in the Nizhny Novgorod and Kaliningrad regions of Russia, as well as in the Grodno region of Belarus.
On September 1, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko announced that Russia would soon supply Belarus with dozens of aircraft, helicopters, air defense systems and, possibly, S-400 missile systems.
Belarus and Russia will also conduct West-2021 (Zapad-2021) strategic exercises from 9-15 September. The exercises that will take place on the territory of the two countries as well as in the southern part of the Baltic Sea will see about 12,800 troops training.
The exercise typically has two phases. In the first three days, Russian forces simulate a NATO intervention into Belarus that Russia and Belarus respond to together. The second phase involves a combined-arms Russian force “stabilizing” the situation in response to a crisis.