Russia, Belarus start joined airforce drills; fears heighten in Kyivtext_fields
Kyiv: Heightening fears in Kyiv, Russia and Belarus have started joint airforce exercises on Monday. Both Ukraine and the West view this as a potential move to initiate another ground offensive by Russia on Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Though Minsk, Belarusian administration, says that the drills are defensive, Moscow had used the country as a launch pad for attacks on Ukraine when it initiated the invasion in February. Also, Belarus conducted many military exercises individually as well as joined with Russia.
There were unofficial Telegram channels that reported a multitude of fighters, helicopters and military transport planes gathering in Belarus since the start of the new year. On Sunday alone, eight fighters and four cargo planes landed in Belarus.
Reuters reports that though it cannot verify the news, Belarus's defence ministry said that some units of the Russian air force arrived in the country. The ministry released a statement saying that all airfields and training grounds belonging to the Air Force and Air Defence Forces of the Armed forces of Belarus will be involved in the "tactical flight exercise".
However, the first deputy state secretary of the Belarusian Security Council, Pavel Muraveyko, said that the border with Ukraine was not very calm and the neighbour has been provoking Belarus. He said that Minsk was maintaining patience and restraint, "keeping our gunpowder dry". They have the necessary military forces and means to respond to any aggression "or a terrorist threat to the country, Muraveyko said.
Ukraine President Volodimir Zelensky issued a warning of possible aggression from Belarus last week, advising his country to be ready.
However, Kremlin denied claims that it has been pressurising Minsk to involve actively in the Ukraine war.