Russian troops have arrived in Belarus to conduct joint combat exercises in February. The Belarusian defence minister stated this on Tuesday. However, he did not say how many men were involved.
According to the minister, the exercises are being held in view of the deteriorating political and military situation in the world and rising tensions with the West and Ukraine, it said in a statement. He added that these are “improvised” exercises.
The Belarusian Ministry of Defense also released photos on Tuesday showing Russian tanks and army trucks on railway carriages. The Allied manoeuvres will take place from February 10 to 20, Major General Oleg Voinov said at a meeting with foreign military representatives.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko had previously announced the exercises without an exact date. However, according to Belarusian sources, the manoeuvres will also be held in the south and west of the former Soviet Republic, on the borders with Poland and Ukraine.
For months, the US and NATO have criticized the massive deployment of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. They fear that Russia is planning an invasion of the neighbouring country, something Moscow has repeatedly denied.
It is not uncommon for the Russian army to hold exercises with close ally Belarus. Partly because the West has already imposed sanctions on the power apparatus in Belarus on several occasions, the Belarusian regime is now even more dependent on Russia’s support than before.
Ukraine, in turn, repeatedly pointed out that Russian troops would not return to their barracks after the manoeuvres.