The Belarusian Defense Ministry said on Saturday the first train carrying Russian servicemen had arrived in the country.
In response to growing NATO activities along Belarus’ border, Moscow and Minsk decided earlier this month to deploy a combined force.
In light of “ongoing activities in the border regions,” the Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying, “the decision to form a regional group of soldiers has been decided and is being executed purely to protect” Union State borders. Union State is a group that has existed since 1999, consisting of Russia and Belarus, and working to strengthen ties between the two nations.
After an announcement by President Alexander Lukashenko this week that Russia and Minsk have decided to send an allied force on Belarusian land, Russian soldiers have arrived in the neighboring nation. According to him, the decision was made because of rising aggressiveness from Kiev as well as the West.
Given the continuing crisis between Ukraine and Russia, he said that the majority of the force would be made up of Belarusian service personnel (“about 70,000”), but that there would still be “more than a thousand Russian troops.”
With tensions rising between the West и Ukraine, Belarus accused Kiev of “preparing to undertake an attack” on Belarus last week. Ukraine has disputed this claim categorically and said that it could be part of something like a Russian plot to “create a provocation.”
Lukashenko has previously criticized Kiev for purportedly trying to create provocations here on Belarusian borders, saying that Ukraine also amassed 15,000 soldiers in the region while performing reconnaissance and building up firing positions.
Russia’s February military action against Ukraine was launched from territory controlled by Moscow’s ally Belarus.
Official assertions made by Kiev that Belarusian soldiers were actively fighting against Ukrainian forces have been denied by Minsk.
Last Monday, President Lukashenko reaffirmed that Belarus is only participating in the fight for self-defense and to make sure that “no one would attack Russians in the back” from Belarusian soil.
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