Size matters, especially when it comes to international agreements. Russian officials just fired back on reports that the number of troops deployed to take part in the joint Russian-Belarusian Allied Resolve 2022 exercise exceeded the limits set by the “Vienna Document 2011.” The agreement between the states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe was intended to implement confidence and security building measures.
Its provisions include an annual exchange of military information about forces located in Europe, defined as the Atlantic to the Urals.
On Wednesday, Russia's ambassador to Belarus, Boris Gryzlov, claimed that the number of forces involved in the Union Resolve 2022 drills was well within the limits established by the Vienna Document.
"Both Russian troops and armaments have arrived for this exercise [in Belarus]. I would like to stress that there is a certain cap on the strength of forces and on the hardware involved," said Gryzlov during a segment on a Russian news network. "It was established under the Vienna Document of 2011. This limit has not been exceeded, so there is nothing to worry about."
"There are not tens or hundreds, but thousands of troops involved. It goes without saying that we are obliged to take care of the security of our Western borders. I am referring to the common borders of our Union State of Russia and Belarus," Gryzlov added.
The current drills are reportedly part of ongoing checks to test the readiness of the joint reaction force of the Union State. Those checks will end with the Union Resolve 2022 exercise, which will be held in Belarus from February 10 to February 20.
Union Resolve 2022
Russian and Belarusian officials have maintained that their ongoing joint exercises are purely defensive in nature. It is part of the larger Allied Resolve 2022 exercise, which saw units deployed to "threatened" regions and reportedly involves some 30,000 troops using five training ranges and four airfields in Belarus.
If true, the overall number of boots on the ground would greatly exceed the thousands of troops that Gryzlov claimed were involved. It would even eclipse the 20,000 troops that took part in last year's Zapad 2021 exercises.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.