Russia, Belarus start joint drills on Belarusian military ranges
Russia's Defense Ministry announces joint military drills with Belarus, training troops on preventing and combating external aggression and counteracting terrorism.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced Thursday that Russia and Belarus have started the Allied Resolve-2022 joint drills on the Belarusian military ranges.
"On February 10, the 'Allied Resolve-2022' joint drills started on the combines arms ranges of the Republic of Belarus as part of the second stage of checking the reaction forces of the Union State," the ministry said.
As part of the drills, the "combat crews of the Russian Eastern Military District’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system went on combat duty to ensure air defense," the Russian Ministry added.
According to the Ministry, the drills are aimed at training actions on preventing and combating external aggression, counteracting terrorism, and protecting the interests of the Union State.
White House: Drills are more "escalatory"
For its part, the US sees Russian-Belarus preparations for military drills as "escalatory", but Washington will not predict their meaning in terms of a potential invasion of Ukraine, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.
"As we look at the preparations of these military exercises again we see that they are more escalatory, not deescalatory... That is concerning, but I won't make predictions what it means in terms of an invasion," Psaki told reporters.
The first stage of the Russian-Belarussian military drills took place on February 9 and included "the redeployment of troops and the creation of task forces in Belarus, as well as activities to ensure the security of crucial government and military facilities and protect the state border in the airspace," according to TASS news agency.
Lukashenko: Belarus will fight alongside Russia if Ukraine attacks Donbas
It is noteworthy that Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko affirmed this week that Belarusian troops will fight alongside Russian troops if Ukraine launches an attack on the Donbas region.
“The Belarusian army will act in exactly the same way as the Russian army, it will be a joint response. Do you think we’re joking around on the southern border today?” he said in an interview, in reference to the Allied Resolve-2022 joint drills with Russia.
This comes as the West has accused Russia of preparing to allegedly "invade" Ukraine and amassing troops along the border.
The West has been threatening Russia with sanctions in case of an escalation while fueling one through deploying troops all over Europe and providing Kiev with arms, violating the Minsk agreement, as the latter amassed over 120,000 soldiers on the Donbas borders.