An unspecified number of Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets of the Russian Air Force arrived at Baranovichi air base in Belarus, on September 7, 2021. 

Russia and Belarus announced the creation of a joint training center for the air forces of the two countries at the air base. Both forces operate the Su-30 Flanker fighters.

Located 136 kilometers southwest of Minsk, Baranovichi is also at about a hundred kilometers from the borders of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania.

The mission of the Russian Su-30s in Baranovichi will not be limited to training. The Belarusian Ministry of Defense explained that they will also “carry out joint combat missions to protect the borders of the Union State.” 

Since 1999, Russia and Belarus form a loose community called the Union State whose set goal was to unite the two nations.

From September 10, 2021, over 200,000 soldiers, 80 aircraft and helicopters, around 300 tanks, and more than 10 ships of both Russia and Belarus will take part in a joint exercise called Zapad 21. The drills should be closely watched by neighboring Poland, the Baltic states, and their allies. 

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Five observation flights by western spy planes took place over the Baltic Sea ahead of Russian and Belarusian forces’ Zapad 21 exercise.