Lukashenko announces Russia-Belarus military maneuvers in February

MOSCOW, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Russia and Belarus will take part in joint military exercises in February, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was quoted by the Belta news agency as saying on Monday amid tensions over Ukraine.

Kiev and Western countries accuse Russia of having massed tens of thousands of soldiers, according to their estimates, near its border with Ukraine. Russia denies any plans to invade its neighbor.

“We were planning to start maneuvers in February. Set a specific date and let us know, so that we are not criticized for massing troops from nowhere, as if we were about to go to war” , said Alexander Lukashenko to his Minister of Defense. (Report Maria Kiselyova, written by Tom Balmforth, French version Bertrand Boucey, edited by Blandine Hénault)

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