MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia and Belarus will maintain joint military drills in February, Belarusian chief Alexander Lukashenko mentioned on Monday, amid hovering tensions between East and West over Ukraine.
Russia, a detailed ally of Belarus, has anxious the West and Kyiv with a troop construct-up close to Ukraine’s borders and a barrage of threatening rhetoric, stirring fears that it plans to invade.
Moscow denies any such plan, however has used the standoff to marketing campaign for safety ensures from the West, together with a halt to NATO enlargement and a proper veto on Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, ever becoming a member of the military alliance.
“We had been planning to start out workouts in February. Set a precise date and tell us, so we aren’t blamed for massing some troops right here out of the blue, as if we’re getting ready to go to battle,” Lukashenko instructed his defence minister.
The Belarusian chief, a pariah in the West since cracking down on protests in 2020 and a migrant disaster with the European Union, mentioned the workouts can be held on Belarus’s southern and western borders.
The former Soviet republic of 9.5 million, which Moscow sees as a buffer state to the West, borders Ukraine to its south and NATO members Poland and Lithuania to its west.
Lukashenko, who has grown nearer to the Kremlin because the West shunned him, accused Ukraine of build up troops close to Belarus in feedback circulated by the Defence Ministry.
He mentioned Poland and the Baltics had greater than 30,000 troopers close to Belarus’s borders.
“These must be regular workouts to work out a sure plan in the confrontation with these forces: the west (the Baltics and Poland) and the south (Ukraine),” the state Belta information company quoted him as saying.
The Kremlin mentioned individually that stories that Estonia was ready to host as much as 5,000 NATO troops confirmed Moscow was proper to be anxious.
“It’s precisely issues like that which show we’ve grounds to be involved and it proves we’re not the explanation for escalating tensions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned.
He was requested on a convention name to remark after a senior Russian official declined to rule out or affirm whether or not Russia may deploy missiles in Venezuela or Cuba if the West refused to ship Moscow’s safety ensures.
“For Latin America – we’re speaking about sovereign states there, let’s not overlook that. And in the context of the present scenario, Russia is considering how to make sure its personal safety… We are … reviewing totally different situations,” he mentioned.
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Dmitry Antonov; writing by Tom Balmforth; enhancing by Andrew Osborn and Timothy Heritage)