Russia and two of its top regional allies have teamed up for the active phase of an annual joint military exercise, coinciding with a major naval drill being held by the U.S. and its partners in the NATO Western defense coalition in northern Europe.
The Slavic Brotherhood-2018 tactical drills officially began Tuesday with the ceremonial raising of the Russian, Belarussian and Serbian flags at the Rayevsky range in Russia's southern Krasnodar region, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The exercise, which will last through Thursday, was set to see paratroopers from the three nations work together to thwart a simulated insurgent takeover in a fictitious Eastern European state.
More than 700 Russian airborne troops will be involved, along with about 250 special forces from Belarus and 50 more from Serbia. In addition to this being Belarus's first appearance at the annual exercise, Russia also plans to debut some updates to some of its vehicles, including the BMD-4M amphibious infantry fighting vehicle, the BTR-MDM Rakushka amphibious armored personnel carrier, the Lynx armored car, the T-72B main battle tank, the Infauna electronic warfare vehicle and the Aistenok radar complex.