Russia and Belarus Begin Joint Army Exercise

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Russia and Belarus have started joint military exercises. They will last until February 20 and are intended to prepare armies to “withstand external aggressions,” Russia’s defence ministry said. The West followed the exercises closely because of the increased tension around Ukraine.

 

Military personnel in Belarus will, among other things, practice guarding the border. Allies Russia and Belarus have not said how many troops will participate, but it is believed to be their largest joint exercise in years. It would also be practised near Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania borders.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said some 30,000 Russian soldiers are expected in Belarus. That would amount to the “largest military troop build-up there since the Cold War”. Stoltenberg called for vigilance and said Russia has previously used army exercises as a “cover” for aggression.

Tension in the region has already risen due to Russian troop build-up on the border with Ukraine. Western countries fear that Russia is considering an invasion of that Eastern European country. Russian officials have dismissed reports of such a raid as scaremongering and want the West to seriously take Russia’s concerns about NATO expansion.

The Russians certainly do not want neighbouring Ukraine to be able to join the military alliance. NATO would then gain a stronger position on the external Russian border. Multi-day army drills also start in Ukraine on Thursday. According to the authorities, there is training on the use of Turkish drones and anti-tank weapons supplied by the United Kingdom, among other things.

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