Belarus risks losing western weapon suppliers over embargo but hopes for Russian support
According to the EUobserver, three European firms could export weapons to Belarus and Russia. Such trade is illegal because the EU banned arms supplies to these countries back in 2011 and 2014.
How does the purchase of foreign weapons take place? What kind of weapons were bought for the Belarusian military, special services, and police? To answer these questions, we analyzed information from the Telegram channel of military expert Yahor Lebyadok.
What did Belarus buy?
As for the most important weapons in Belarus, they are now of Soviet, Russian or Belarusian manufacture. There is no need to buy such weapons from NATO countries, as the official defense plan considers Russia as an ally and NATO as the main rival, reports the Telegram channel of Yahor Lebyadok.
“At the same time, there are a number of cases where foreign weapons can be used. First of all, these are small arms for special-purpose units. For example, foreign Glock 17 (Austria), SIG-Sauer P226 (Germany), CZ-75 (Czech Republic) and others, a number of sniper rifles Sako TRG (Finland), Accuracy International AXMC (UK), Victrix Gladius MilLE (Italy) and others, submachine guns such as H&K MP.5, smooth-bore rifles Mossberg, Remington, Benelli are used for training personnel as well as for practical work in special units of the armed forces, Interior Ministry, Presidential Security Service, State Border Committee of Belarus” the expert wrote in his blog.
This is done because some types of Russian and Belarusian-made weapons are still inferior to foreign units on a number of parameters. Since the number of small arms in special units is not so large compared to the armed forces, and the importance of its parameters in peacetime is very significant, for many years foreign small arms were purchased for special units.
“Of course, ammunition for it is also purchased, and that is exactly what EUobserver reported when it wrote that it is supplied to Belarus via Moldova. Also for such units, various small things are purchased, including personally by employees: ammunition, wind meters with a ballistic calculator, communications equipment, and the like. It is also worth noting that a number of weapons manufactured in Belarus and supplied to the armed forces have parts and pieces of Western production,” informs the blog.
Western weapons are usually purchased through Russian intermediary firms or firms from other countries.
“A good example is the purchase of Motorola radios for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, even though there are specialized companies in Belarus like “Tekhnika svyazi.” This is certainly not a weapon, but it illustrates the approach well. Good political ties with Turkey and the UAE, as well as with Serbia, Romania and Moldova made it possible to buy Western weapons through firms in these countries, as well as to sell Soviet stocks and Belarusian weapons through these countries,” writes the Telegram-channel.
Security forces throwing grenades directly at people. Chervyakou Street, Minsk, November 15, 2020. Source: @belsat readers
“It is easy to confront unarmed or weakly armed people with just ordinary batons and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Dependence on foreign equipment and software to counter Internet communications is more significant here than on weaponry, although not great either,” the expert believes.
Non-lethals can be bought in Russia. Moreover, the major violence was carried out using only rubber truncheons, hands and feet, and through confinement in isolation, according to the blog.
Impact on local weapons production
Lukashenka’s security forces will now seek to avoid purchasing European weapons as much as possible. This may affect the combat capability of, for example, snipers, but still not critically.
“But the purchase of component parts for Belarusian-made weapons is a more serious problem. Despite all the bravado that component parts can be purchased from China and Russia, such substitution at least affects the reliability of combat systems built with components from these states. Even Russia has not been able to completely eliminate its dependence on external components in six years of active import substitution measures,” Yahor Lebyadok’s Telegram channel notes.