Belarus says Russian troops will leave when exercises end

The Belarusian Ministry of Defense said on Thursday that Russian armed forces in Belarus would leave once their military exercises are completed.

“At the end of the inspection, military units and sub-units of the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces will leave the territory of the Republic of Belarus,” the Belarusian ministry said, Reuters reported.

The military drills are expected to run from Feb. 10 to Feb. 20, and Russia sent troops and equipment into Belarus earlier this month, including a paratrooper unit and a dozen Su-35 fighter jets.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said earlier this month that the two countries would participate in the military exercises to “thwart and repel a foreign aggression,” The Associated Press reported.

The military drills in Belarus, which is situated directly north of Ukraine, have added to the existing tens of thousands of Russian troops already amassed near the Ukrainian border. The international community remains concerned that Russia is readying itself to invade the former Soviet Union nation, though Russia denies such intent.

The latest shipment of U.S. military equipment arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday, including grenade launchers and Javelin anti-tank missiles. The shipments are a part of a Biden administration-approved $200 million lethal aid package.

Earlier this week, the State Department ordered family members of federal workers from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to exit the country immediately in addition to authorizing the voluntary departure of U.S. direct-hire employees. 

The embassy has urged Americans in Ukraine several times to consider leaving the country amid escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

“The security situation in Ukraine continues to be unpredictable due to the increased threat of Russian military action and can deteriorate with little notice. The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens in Ukraine to consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options,” the embassy said in its latest message on Wednesday. 

Tags Belarus Kyiv military exercises Russia State Department Ukraine

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