Russia Troops Trained by Belarus, Own Instructors Sent to Ukraine: UK

  • Belarus is training Russian troops despite its army being “much less-experienced,” the UK MOD said.
  • Russia resorted to this after its own training system was upended by the war in Ukraine, it said.
  • Most of Russia’s instructors are deployed in Ukraine, according to UK intelligence.

Russia has been forced to rely on neighboring Belarus to train some of its troops, with many of its own instructors now deployed to Ukraine, according to UK intelligence. This despite Belarus’ military being much less experienced.

The UK Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update on Friday that the move showed how Russia’s usual training system had been upended by its invasion of Ukraine.

“The fact Russia has resorted to training its personnel under the much less-experienced Belarusian army highlights how Russia’s ‘special military operation’ has severely dislocated the Russian military’s training system – instructors have largely been deployed in Ukraine,” it said.

The UK MOD said that Russia likely deployed at least 1,000 troops in March 2023 that were trained at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in Belarus.

Belarus, which borders both Russia and Ukraine, is considered Russia’s closest ally. The country is viewed as a Russian puppet state, and has allowed Russian troops to train there and use the country as a transit point into Ukraine.

The training of Russian troops has been heavily scrutinized since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Some were sent to Ukraine with less than ten days of training, The New York Times reported in October, and many died soon after.

The UK MOD also said that Russia had political reasons for training troops in Belarus. “Russia likely also views Belarus’s continued indirect support to the operation as important political messaging,” it said.

“Russia has highly likely left the tented camp in place, suggesting it is considering continuing the training programme,” it added

Belarus has not sent its own troops to fight in Ukraine. But it has allowed Russian ballistic missiles to be launched into Ukraine from Belarusian territory, and the countries have undertaken joint training exercises.