Belarus exercises rapid large-scale mobilization
The Belarusian military authorities study and apply the experience from the recent armed conflicts, which allow parties to promptly organise and expand the force potential. Belarus is likely to continue the mobilisation exercises, inter alia, by drafting reservists from the Reserve Forces to deploy major formations (regiment, brigade).
A comprehensive combat readiness inspection in the Belarusian Armed Forces is nearing the end. A record high number of drafted reservists, circa 3,000 people, marked the exercise.
The mere fact that reservists were recalled for military service is not something new for Belarus. In previous years, from a few hundred up to more than 2000 people were recalled for the large-scale military exercises in Belarus.
In peacetime, a significant part of the Belarusian army units is downsized and is used as a training and mobilisation base for the deployment of a wartime army. Three of five Belarusian neighbouring states outnumber her in terms of population and military capacity. Theoretically, they are capable of starting a military action against Belarus without additional mobilisation. That said, it is critical for Belarus to be able to promptly recall additional conscripts from the reserve in order to deploy wartime sized military units.
International experience (Serbia, Ukraine) has shown that mobilisation is not an easy task. There are two major reasons for that: institutional, i.e. inability of the authorities to organize the recall and transport the reservists to the military units for military service; and low turnout of reservists at the assembly points. For instance, in some regions in Ukraine, the turnout among reservists subjected to the recall in 2014-2015 was only 43%.
Apparently, Belarus has made appropriate conclusions: during the combat readiness inspection in February 2017, the military authorities were recalling up to 900 reservists a day. The largest unit deployed by the recruitment from the reserve, was a battalion/division. In the near future, Belarus is likely to deploy larger formations (regiment, brigade) during the recall exercise. The organisational core of such formations could be the Joint Training Centre, the Military Academy or one of the weapon storages.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.