Russia Announces Dozens of Army Exercises with Belarus
Troops from neighbouring countries Russia and Belarus will practice together at least twenty times this year. According to news agency TASS, these include the Vostok 2022 exercise, the Russian defense minister said.
NATO says Moscow is sending tens of thousands of troops and modern weaponry to Belarus.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg spoke on Thursday about the largest Russian force in Belarus since the end of the Cold War. Some 30,000 Russian soldiers, special forces, fighter jets and advanced missile systems are expected to travel to that country for military exercises.
These exercises come at a sensitive time. Western countries fear that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine, which also borders Belarus. So Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu visits that ally to inspect troops. He also spoke with President Alexander Lukashenko.
Russia denies that it has plans to invade Ukraine and blames the West. That would not adequately address concerns about Russia’s national security. The Russian government feels threatened by the expansion of NATO and demands guarantees that Ukraine cannot join that military alliance.
Tensions rose further after the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Ukrainian ambassador on Thursday. Belarus says a military drone from the neighbouring country crossed the border on January 24. Ukraine contradicts that.