MADRID, 20 (EUROPE PRESS)
The Belarusian Defense Ministry announced this Sunday that it will extend its joint military exercises with Russia due to the escalation of tension on the border with Ukraine, as well as in the Donbas region, in eastern Ukraine.
“In connection with the increased military activity near the external borders of the Union State and the aggravation of the situation in Donbas, the Presidents of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation decided to continue testing the response forces of the State of the Union,” Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin announced.
The State of the Union is the supranational entity formed by Russia and Belarus, ratified in 1999 by the still Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, and the then Russian president, Boris Yeltsin.
Western powers suspect that Belarus, a staunch ally of Moscow, has a good chance of becoming the spearhead of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. The maneuvers, called Allied Resolution – 2022, began ten days ago and were observed with deep suspicion by both NATO and the Ukrainian government itself.
The Kremlin has been saying for weeks that it has no intention of entering that country and accuses NATO of threatening its security by expanding in Eastern Europe.
Returning to the announcement, the minister has not provided details on how long this extension of his exercises will last — which in principle were to end today — but has warned that “in general”, his approach will remain “unchanged”, designed as it is to “guarantee an adequate response to the military preparations of malicious actors near our common borders”, collects the official Belarusian news agency Belta.
“THE INFRASTRUCTURE IS READY”
The minister has reported that the exercises have been a success and demonstrate the harmony between the forces of both countries. “We do not have the ‘military Schengen’ problem, which Western states are trying to solve today: the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation have all the infrastructure ready,” he said.
Khrenin also applauded that both countries are united at various levels: “We have the same school, the same approaches, we act and think the same.”
Shortly after, and through a video posted on Telegram, the minister explained that part of this extension will be used to create a “rapid intervention force” to launch a possible counterattack in the event of a threat, before calling again to calm.
“Our presidents have said it in their meetings over and over again: we don’t want war,” Khrenin said. “But they’re not listening, or they don’t want to listen to us,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, has denounced that this extension of Russian troops was a “clear preparation to attack Ukraine towards Kiev”.
On his Twitter account, the minister called for NATO reinforcements and the immediate imposition of new sanctions from the European Union; a sentiment that has been echoed by the Latvian Defense Minister, Artis Pabriks, who has assured that it was “time to implement” the sanctions.
Although the Belarusian Foreign Minister, Vladimir Makei, stated this week that “not a single Russian soldier or piece of equipment” would remain in Belarus at the end of the exercises, the tension has risen even more since then, with a full reactivation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the string of warnings from international leaders issued this weekend at the Munich Security Conference.
Precisely this past Saturday, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko directly supervised a series of ballistic exercises with hypersonic and intercontinental missiles and tests from nuclear submarines in what they described as an “exercise of the strategic deterrent forces” although, recalls the Kremlin, it was ” planned in advance” before the crisis.