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Military policy

Co-operation and interaction with member countries of the international community is the keystone of Belarus’ foreign policy. A peaceful neighbourhood is the result of observance of rules of international law, as well as international obligations, especially in the sphere of defence.

National Security ConceptThe Belarusian military doctrine is of strictly defensive nature. Photo: Evgeny Khatskevich (interfax.by).

Belarus' National Security Concept covers guidelines, means and ways of protecting the vital interests of individuals, society and the state. It contains the methodological foundation for the construction of Belarus' national security assurance system and is designed for use in planning and implementing state bodies’ activities aimed at ensuring national security.

Military Doctrine

The Military Doctrine of the Republic of Belarus is a set of formal principles ensuring state military security, through political and military means. It elaborates the main directions of state military policy and defines our attitude towards military conflict, and its prevention, military construction, and the use of military force to protect the vital interests of the state.

Military Doctrine is legally based on the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, on the National Security Concept, and upon international treaties in the sphere of military security, alongside other acts of the Republic of Belarus.

Belarus’ Military Doctrine is of purely defensive character. Belarus proceeds from the fact that it has no potential enemies and that its military security governs protection of national interests. However, it is prepared for the possible transformation of our situation, to one of military threat.

According to the Military Doctrine, the Republic of Belarus condemns war as a means of implementing policy and adheres to the principle of ‘no first use’ of armed forces, other troops and military formations. This is in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Belarus, for the resolution of potential conflict. The Republic builds its relations with other countries on principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs, as well as other principles of international law and regulations of international law. The Republic of Belarus considers the possibility of using military force and participation in a military conflict (war) solely for the purpose of deflecting attack (an act of armed aggression), to protect its territorial integrity. It advocates resolution of all inter-state conflict exclusively through negotiation, on the basis of mutual benefit.

The main objectives of Belarus’ military policy are the maintenance of international peace and security, preventing the threat of war and ensuring the guarantee of the national security of the Republic of Belarus against possible military threats.

In accordance with the Law of the Republic of Belarus ‘On the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus', the activity of the Armed Forces is based on the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, on the international treaties of the Republic of Belarus and on other normative legal acts of the Republic of Belarus regulating the activities of the Armed Forces.

To protect the Republic of Belarus from external threats, state policy aims to strengthen the European security system and mutual trust, while rejecting the settlement of disputes through the use of military force.

Cooperation and interaction with all states which are members of the world community is the foundation of foreign policy of Belarus. Photo: interfax.by.

In line with the National Security Concept, the Republic of Belarus ensures its military security via principles of defence sufficiency and strategic deterrence of potential aggression, giving priority to non-military means. The implementation of state policy to strengthen the European security system and mutual trust, while rejecting the settlement of disputes through the use of military force, is a priority of Belarusian policy, aimed at protecting against external threats.

The functions and tasks of the Armed Forces, other troops and military formations (military and paramilitary forces and security forces) are defined in the laws of the Republic of Belarus ‘On the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus’, ‘On the Bodies of State Security of the Republic of Belarus’, ‘On the Law Enforcement Bodies of the Republic of Belarus’, ‘On the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus’, and ‘On the Bodies of the Border Service of the Republic of Belarus’, among others.

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus

The Republic of Belarus is an established, independent, sovereign European state, which does not belong to any of the world's centres of power. It conducts a peaceful foreign policy and is committed to creating conditions for receiving neutral status. At the same time, Belarus – due to its geographical position and openness – is fully subject to most geopolitical processes in the world.

Against a global background of military conflict, the Republic of Belarus stands for ensured peace, stability and harmony. This is our country, which acts as an important factor of security on the European continent, as recognised by the international community.

Belarus is realising a multi-vector foreign policy of the pursuit of peace, while paying attention to the country’s military security. Over a period of twenty years, we have seen the creation of modern armed forces of a sovereign independent state: an important deterrent against attempts to talk with the country from a position of strength. Their further development is now underway.

Attention is being paid to the development of the mobile component of the Armed Forces. In training troops, main efforts focus on teaching modern methods of warfare. Another priority is improved territorial defence, aiming to ensure the all-national character of the homeland’s protection.

The process of equipping the Belarusian army with new and modernised weapons and military equipment continues; every year, around twenty-five new models are added.

New anti-aircraft missile systems are being purchased, according to plans. The S-125 air defence missile system has been completely replaced by the S-300 and, in recent years, the new Tor-MS anti-aircraft missile system has come into service, said to be unique globally. In 2015, the latest combat training aircraft launched: the Yak-130 (unique in its class).

The Irkut-3, Irkut-10, Berkut-1, Berkut-2, and BP-12 unmanned aircraft systems are used for training, and for developing new remotely piloted air systems, via research and development.

Military units and communication units now use the latest digital telecommunications equipment, to promote the innovative development of the Armed Forces. Most Armed Forces stationary communication centres are now equipped with digital telecommunications equipment and digital data transmission systems. Fibre-optic communication lines have been designed and laid.

Developments in the domestic military-industrial complex open broad prospects for equipping the Belarusian army with the most advanced technologies, including domestic manufactured radar, Rosa-RB, and the Naves complex of radio interference. In recent years, troops have received over 1,250 units of automotive equipment manufactured at Minsk Automobile Plant. During the Minsk military parade, on May 9th, 2015, the Polonaise long-range multiple launch rocket system received its first outing, with tests confirming its highest capability.

Major exercises, including jointly with the Russian Federation, such as Zapad-2009, Union Shield-2011, Zapad-2013, and Union Shield-2015, have shown the great capability of our operational troops and the strength of their combat training, assuring us of the reliability of Belarus’ military security system.

Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus enjoy training meeting the highest levels. In 2015, for the first time, Belarusian Special Operations Forces joined Russian paratroopers in making a parachute landing at the North Pole, onto a drifting ice floe, demonstrating their high level of combat training.

The high professionalism of the Belarusian army is well confirmed by annual international military competitions. In 2015, Belarus was among the leaders of the 1st International Army Games, taking third place (among seventeen participating countries) and winning three gold, fifty silver and 249 bronze medals.

Military co-operation between the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation is developing bilaterally (as part of the Treaty on Union State Creation) and multilaterally (as part of the CSTO and CIS). Work continues to improve the regional grouping of troops and the single regional air defence system; collaboration is enhancing, with the armed forces of the People's Republic of China and with other countries.

Interaction with NATO is an integral part of Belarus’ multi-vector foreign policy, aiming to maintain good neighbourly relations with all countries, in the region and with the wider world. Belarus-NATO dialogue is taking place within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and NATO's Partnership for Peace. Practical co-operation is being systematically realised across various fields, through the Individual Partnership and Co-operation Programme and the PfP Planning and Review Process.

Belarus's relations with the North Atlantic Alliance are stable, enjoying a practical focus, in our national interest. They do not affect the interests of allied relations with Russia.

The Republic of Belarus is doing everything necessary to maintain and strengthen international peace and stability, battling new challenges and threats.

The Armed Forces and every serviceman share a commitment and responsibility to uphold the peaceful development of our country.

“We can do anything with our own hands in our native Belarus as long as there is peace and tranquillity. Be sure that no matter how difficult it might be, we’ll certainly provide peace and security for our citizens, at any cost: for the 10 million people who live in the country and the 2-3 million visitors who come to our Republic. Peace is the most valuable factor, upon which a person relies, to ensure their prosperity and progress,” noted President Alexander Lukashenko, speaking at the Prayer for Belarus ceremony. He helped lay a capsule of soil from the burial places of Belarusian soldiers who died far from home, in the crypt of the Memorial Church in Honour of All Saints.

Fulfilment of international obligations

The Republic of Belarus fully meets its obligations regarding international security agreements, disarmament and arms control. In accordance with the National Security Concept, it follows a course of nuclear disarmament, participation in non-proliferation regimes, the implementation of mediation in the settlement of conflict, and peacekeeping activities under the UN, protecting against external threats to national security.

The Republic of Belarus is actively involved in the Collective Security Treaty, which is an integral part of both regional and Eurasian security systems. The organisation contributes to the maintenance of security and stability in its area of responsibility.

Belarus takes an active role in elaborating and adopting decisions and documents within the framework of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), contributing to the development of pan-European co-operation and security dialogue.

The Republic of Belarus is also in favour of equitable co-operation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union, aiming to strengthen European security and stability.

Belarus pursues a consistent policy in the field of non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control, being the first country to have voluntarily given up nuclear weapons, following the dissolution of the USSR.

As a non-nuclear state, Belarus became a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1993. By adhering to the Lisbon Protocol Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, as of May 23rd, 1992, the Republic of Belarus has fulfilled its international obligations. In November 1996, it completed withdrawal of nuclear weapons from its territory.

As part of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, since 1992, Belarus has withdrawn 584 missiles, later exploding them at landfill sites of the former USSR. According to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), Belarus has retired 1,773 battle tanks, 1,341 armoured combat vehicles and 130 combat aircraft: about 10 percent of the arms and military equipment liquidated by all thirty member states of the Treaty.

In 2000, the Republic of Belarus became the first of the CFE Treaty member states to ratify the Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty. As part of a course to strengthen regional stability, based on the principle of comprehensive and mutually beneficial co-operation with neighbouring countries across all regions, the Republic of Belarus signed agreements on additional confidence and security measures with the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, Ukraine and the Republic of Poland.

In line with Article 18 of the Constitution, the Republic of Belarus builds its relations with other nations on the basis of respect for the principles of equality, non-use of force or threat of force, inviolability of borders, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in internal affairs, and other universally recognised principles and norms of international law.

While maintaining its military potential, Belarus takes into account the legitimate security interests of other countries, as well as the need to contribute to international security and stability. Belarus condemns war as a means of implementing policy and adheres to the principle of ‘no first use’ of Armed Force.

The Republic of Belarus is developing co-operation with neighbouring countries in order to strengthen the ‘belt of good neighbourliness’. The development of bilateral relations as part of this ‘belt’ makes the process of construction and development of the national Armed Forces more transparent and predictable. It objectively helps reduce the risk of misunderstanding or miscalculation of military activities.

Defence industryMilitary cooperation with Russia is a priority for Belarus. Photo: interfax.by.

After 1991, Belarus managed to preserve a unified strategy for the development of its defence industry and restructured its defence sector faster than other post-Soviet countries.

By this means, the Belarusian defence system focused on task-oriented development of niche technologies, creating potential for the modernisation of Soviet and Russian platforms, closely co-operating with developers and manufacturers. This allowed it not only to meet domestic demand for military equipment and weapons systems, but to become a legal re-exporter of Russian weaponry to foreign markets.

In December 2003, the country’s leadership established the State Military and Industrial Committee. The new agency undertook the management of the whole military and industrial complex. A dependable and effective export control system, it eliminates trade in armaments and specific military goods in circumvention of international law. Supplies in Belarus are controlled by a wide range of agencies, taking into account the international obligations of our country.

While improving arms control mechanisms and national systems of export control, Belarus supports and develops confidence-building and transparency measures in this sphere. Since 1992, the country has regularly reported to the UN Register for Conventional Arms.

Belarus also participates in UN standardised reporting on military expenditure. Information on the export and import of Belarusian arms and military equipment is provided to the UN Secretary General and to OSCE member states in accordance with the Resolution of the UN General Assembly on the decision of the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation.

All trade in military and industrial products fully complies with the requirements of the UN Security Council. Belarus inviolately executes all UN Security Council resolutions, which limit the supply of weapons and military equipment to certain countries.

New developments

Promising areas of development for the Belarusian defence industry include the production of systems of complex precision weapons countermeasures and military geographic information systems. Priorities include the production of unmanned aircraft and their systems, information technologies, operational systems of special-operations forces and ground forces, and fire damage systems. Each year, the latest developments are displayed at various trade fairs of arms and military equipment, the largest of which is MILEX.

The most successful enterprises within the Belarusian defence industry take part in this exposition, including developers of military optical devices and optoelectronic systems, and those making complex opto-mechanical equipment. Exhibitors demonstrate space, aircraft, topographic, spectrozonal, and photogrammetric systems, as well as laser and night-vision devices and sights for small arms.

Expositions like MILEX are good advertising for the Belarusian defence industry. However, some products require no advertisement with foreign customers. Notably, there are military-oriented vehicles, such as Belarusian traction engines, which gained a reputation during the Soviet period. These are still widely used to transport mobile missile systems and other systems used by the Armed Forces of Belarus and by the forces of neighbouring countries.