Russia holds military drills in Belarus amid rising tensions with Ukraine
Russia and Belarus began 10 days of military exercises on Thursday as fears mount about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the drills, known as Allied Resolve-2022, will continue until Feb. 20. Russia will also conduct naval exercises off the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, according to CNN.
Though Ukraine has concerns about those drills cutting off commercial shipping routes, Moscow has said there will not be blockages, CNN reported.
“The purpose of the exercise is to work out the tasks of suppressing and repelling external aggression while conducting a defensive operation, countering terrorism and protecting the interests of the Union State,” the Russian statement said, according to the outlet.
On Feb. 3, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia had a military buildup of “an expected 30,000 combat troops, Spetsnaz special operation forces, fighter jets including SU-35, Iskander dual-capable missiles and S-400 air defense systems,” CNN added.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week, has said that Putin assured him that he will not escalate the Ukraine crisis.
Macron specifically said Putin “won’t be initiating an escalation” and the “objective is met” for preventing an escalation in the conflict.
But Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine. Though the Kremlin denies that it intends to attack, the U.S. has said it will send 1,700 troops, some of whom have already arrived, to Poland in order to prepare for a possible attack. The U.S. and its allies have also threatened Russia with various economic sanctions in the event of an attack.
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