Belarus and Russia will conduct joint air force exercises starting next week amid growing concern Minsk could join in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The allies will hold the exercises in Belarus from January 15 through February 1, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said.
Belarus said all of the nation’s air force bases, air force training grounds, and air defense forces would be activated for the exercises.
Russia has already begun sending equipment to Belarus in preparation for the joint air force exercises, Belarus said.
‘During the tactical flight exercise, all airfields and training grounds of the Air Force and Air Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus will be involved,’ it added.
The ministry said that it is continuing to increase its joint military grouping with Russians in Belarus, but Ukraine fears Russia could use Belarus which lies on Ukraine’s northern border to invade Ukraine again and take over Kyiv, the country’s capital.
‘Personnel, weapons, military and special equipment of the armed forces of the Russian Federation will continue to arrive to the Republic of Belarus,’ the ministry said.
Some Russian forces are based in Belarus and used its territory in the initial invasion of Ukraine in February.
But President Alexander Lukashenko has gone to some lengths to ensure that Belarusian troops do not become involved in Russia’s so-called ‘special military operation.’