Russia and Belarus commence joint military exercises near Ukrainian border
Russia and Belarus have begun their joint military exercises, dubbed Union Resolve-2022, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Feb. 10.
According to the ministry, the armed forced of the two countries will practice “combat tasks related to repelling a foreign invasion during defensive operations, counter-terrorism, and protecting the interest of the Union State (of Russia and Belarus).”
“The exercise will encompass measures related to bolstering the security of state borders, preventing infiltration by insurgents, cutting weapon and ammunition supply lines, search-and-destroy of illegal armed bands and sabotage and recon squads of the likely adversary,” reads a statement on the ministry’s website.
Union Resolve-2022 is taking place in Belarus, utilizing the Domanovskyi, Gozhskyi, Obuz-Lenovskyi, Brestskyi and Osipovichskyi proving grounds, as well as the Baranovichi, Luninetz, Lida and Machulishi airfields.
The exercises are scheduled to conclude on Feb. 20, said the ministry.
Moscow did not divulge the number of troops involved. There have been reports of Russian S-400 missile systems being deployed to Belarus.
Belarus’ Defense Ministry insisted that Russian troops will leave the country after Union Resolve-2022 comes to an end.
However, Ukraine and its partner nations believe the exercises could be used as a cover for a further Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian troops and equipment have been spotted in Belarus far from the announced zone of the alleged military exercises.
U.S. and UK intelligence agencies have in recent weeks warned that Russia has been planning false flag attacks to justify a pretext for a renewed invasion.
In turn, last December Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu accused the United States of using mercenaries to plan a chemical attack in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Donbas region. He gave no evidence to substantiate his claim.
A Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border was first widely reported in early December 2021, with several media outlets speculating that Russia might invade Ukraine with a force of 175,000 troops in early 2022.
Currently, the Kremlin is believed to have 140,000 Russian troops surrounding Ukraine from Belarus, Russia, and the temporarily occupied territories.
The Kremlin denies gearing up for invasion, and has instead accused Ukraine of planning false flag operations, as well as of drawing up plans to use force to restore Kyiv’s control over territories lost since 2014.
However, the Kremlin has declined to provide a guarantee of non-invasion, and has supplied no evidence of this alleged planned Ukrainian offensive.
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