Command and staff military drills involving Belarusian territorial troops kicked off near the border with Ukraine in the Gomel region of Belarus on July 12, the Ministry of Defense Ukraine’s neighbor to the north reported on the Telegram messenger.
It said the drills would be held on July 12-14. They are aimed at assessing the readiness of officials of the territorial troops to perform training and combat tasks and to improve the skills of reserve officers in working at command posts.
The ministry said that during the exercises, the Belarusian military would practice guarding and defending a territorial defense facility, as well as serving at checkpoints in times of martial law.
Earlier, Belarus announced the start of "mobilization exercises" near its border with Ukraine.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry announced in late May that, on the orders of Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, a "people's militia" would be created. On June 7, the Belarusian army began "combat readiness" exercises.
The regime of Lukashenko, who illegally remained in power in Belarus after rigging the country's 2020 presidential election, has also begun training on "the transition from peacetime to wartime," according to Ukrainian intelligence.
UK intelligence believes that Lukashenko is balancing between supporting the Russian war against Ukraine and the desire to avoid direct military involvement – which carries the risk of Western sanctions, Ukrainian retaliation, and possible discontent in the Belarusian Armed Forces.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 6 said that the risks of another invasion of Ukraine from Belarus are minimal, but that Ukraine is preparing for all possible scenarios.
Lukashenko regularly threatens to directly intervene in Russia's war against Ukraine. Among other things, the dictator has stated that Belarus "will have to fight for the western regions of Ukraine." He also said that "what is happening in Ukraine is only the beginning" and allegedly "one of the elements of a major reshaping of the world."
He has threatened Ukraine with an "instant" retaliatory strike in response to threats from Ukraine, although there is no evidence that Ukraine poses, or has ever posed, any military threat to Belarus.
In recent days it has been reported by Ukrainian officials that Russia is preparing provocations to draw Belarus into its war against Ukraine.
Despite the fact that the Belarusian army is not directly participating in the war against Ukraine, the territory of Belarus was used as a springboard for the offensive of the Russian military and equipment into northern Ukraine at the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion in late February.
Russia continues to launch missiles into Ukraine from the territory of Belarus, and Russian multiple rocket launching systems are placed on the territory of the Republic of Belarus.
In addition, Russian planes launch missiles at Ukraine from Belarusian airspace, and Russia uses Belarusian airfields to station its military aircraft.