The Military parade on July 3rd is likely to create political problems for Minsk amid its efforts to use the event to demonstrate Belarus’ neutrality and equidistance from all opposing parties in the region.
It has been made public that the parade forces of the Russian Army’s Western Military District arrived in Minsk to take part in the Independence Day military parade on July 3rd. Troops forces will be represented by the Kantemir tank division of the 1st Tank Army, which is part of the Belarusian-Russian regional grouping of troops. The mechanized column from the Russian Federation will include “Iskander” tactical missile complexes.
This year’s parade will be dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Belarus’ liberation from the Nazis. So far, it is known that Army representatives of the allies in the anti-Hitler coalition were invited to participate in the parade, including China, Poland, and CIS states. Given the scope of Russia’s participation, the parade troops of European states and the United States are unlikely to join. In addition, Western states are likely to resort to usual demarches and disregard the official participation in the celebrations.
That said, this year, Russia’s participation in the military parade will change. Paratroopers from Pskov, who traditionally represent Russia at the event will be replaced with tank drivers from Moscow suburbs due to the Pskov Airborne Assault division’s participation in the aggression against Ukraine. In such a way, Belarus aims to mitigate the effects of Russia’s representation at the parade.
However, Russia’s participation in the parade with its “Iskander”, a mobile short-range ballistic missile system, is unlikely to be welcomed in the West either: “Iskanders” are regarded as an important component of the Russian military threat to European states. Moreover, rockets used by «Iskander» were quoted as a reason for the US withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, one of the major arms control instruments. Hence, while attempting to resolve one issue, the Belarusian authorities have created another problem. Moreover, the mere appearance of «Iskander» in the Belarusian capital’s streets will feed additional arguments to those in the West who insist on Belarus’ critical dependence on Russia in security matters, as Minsk struggles to prove otherwise.