Minsk: Upcoming Russia-Belarus air drills defensive in nature
First Deputy State Secretary of Belarus' Security Council Pavel Muraveiko says the upcoming drills on January 16 and purely defensive in nature, and such drills are held on a regular basis.
Russia and Belarus' joint flight-tactical drills scheduled to begin on Jan. 16 are defensive in their nature and will include reconnaissance and counterattack exercises, First Deputy State Secretary of Belarus' Security Council Pavel Muraveiko said on Sunday.
"The exercises are purely defensive in nature, and will focus on aerial reconnaissance, air strikes as well as air defense of critical facilities and communication lines," Muraveiko told the CTV broadcaster, eliminating doubts that the drills could be a threat to Ukraine.
The senior official insisted that such training is held on a regular basis, so this year's exercises have nothing going on behind the scenes.
"As for the exercise itself, it will be a set of activities to train our and Russian aviation in carrying out their respective combat tasks. The exercise will involve airfields and training grounds on the territory of the Republic of Belarus, where aviation units of both our and Russian units will operate shoulder to shoulder or wing to wing," Muraveiko said.
Meanwhile, Minsk is prepared for any provocations by Ukraine, he said, adding that border administrations of Belarus and Ukraine are holding some talks, which do not always result in positive results.
Belarus will host three out of four planned Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military drills in September.
Muraveiko also noted that Belarus’ territorial defense exercises are also scheduled for the first quarter of this year.
On January 8, the Belarusian Defense Ministry stated that the Belarusian and Russian armed forces' aviation units will hold joint tactical flight training from January 16 to February 1. The aviation component of the Russian aerospace forces was also reported to have arrived in Belarus for drills.
Belarus, this year's CSTO chair, will also organize an international conference on Eurasian security, a fairly broad dialogue between defense ministers, foreign ministers, and security council secretaries "along the CSTO-China lines," Muraveiko added.
On January 6, Belarusian Deputy Defense Minister, Andrey Zhuk, affirmed that the Belarusian-Russian joint regional military detachment is ready to defend the Union State of Belarus and Russia amid the situation escalating near its western borders.
On New Year's Eve, the Russian Embassy in Minsk highlighted that bilateral ties between Russia and Belarus have reached new highs in light of recent geopolitical events that have increased both countries' commitment to the Union State.
In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that Moscow and Minsk are not only good neighbors but also have developed ally relations, including economic cooperation.
Talks between Putin and Lukashenko brought the latter to reaffirm that Russia can do without Belarus, but that Belarus can't do without Russia.
On October 10, Lukashenko said Minsk and Moscow agreed on deploying a joint military group as the security situation was declining on the western border of the Union State, a supranational union between Belarus and Russia founded in 2000 with the objective of integrating both nations' political, economic, and defense policies.
The Union State's military doctrine declares that any aggression against either member is aggression against both, which would call for "appropriate measures" to be taken "using all the forces and means" at the countries' disposal to neutralize the threat.