Russia and Belarus have decided to prolong the ongoing joint military exercises, which were due to end today, due to the escalation of tensions with Ukraine, the Belarusian Defense Minister announced today.
“In view of the increase in military activity near the borders (…) and the worsening situation in Donbass, the Presidents of Belarus and Russia decided to continue the inspection of the forces”, announced Victor Jrenin.
This announcement means that Russian troops will remain in Belarus, in the midst of a crisis with the West, despite Moscow having promised that its forces would return to base after these exercises, which were due to end this Sunday.
The minister added that during this “inspection” of the troops, a term that designates military maneuvers, the “defense elements” that were not “addressed in such detail in the previous training” will be rehearsed “in-depth”.
Its focus, said the minister, will remain the same: “Ensure an adequate response and a de-escalation of military preparations carried out by malicious people close to the borders”.
The news comes on the day that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC that US intelligence suggests that Russian forces are not only planning to enter Ukraine from the east, via Donbass, but also through Belarus, and who plan to besiege the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
On February 10, the Russian and Belarusian armies launched joint military maneuvers in Belarus, without specifying the number of soldiers and equipment that would participate in the exercises, but Western intelligence services said at the beginning of the maneuvers that 30,000 Russian soldiers were deployed in Belarus.
Kiev condemned these military exercises, considering them a form of “psychological pressure” on the part of Russia, but Moscow defended their legitimacy, noting that Russia and Belarus are subject to “unprecedented threats”, and also guaranteed that Russian units would return. to their permanent locations at year-end.
The West and Russia are currently experiencing a period of intense tension, with the Moscow regime being accused of concentrating at least 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, in apparent preparation for a potential invasion of the neighboring country.
Moscow denies any war intention and claims to have withdrawn part of the contingent from the area.
However, in recent days, Ukraine’s army and pro-Russian separatists have been accusing each other of renewed bombings in the east of the country, where the war between these two factions has been going on since 2014.
Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) announced on Saturday that they had registered more than 1,500 ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine in 24 hours, a number that constitutes a record this year.
Source: With Agencies