Military pressure is increasing in Eastern Europe. Belarus announced on Tuesday 18 January the arrival of an undetermined number of Russian troops for “combat readiness” in February.
“The upcoming operational readiness and combat exercises are taking place due to the worsening of the political-military situation in the world, the continuous increase of tensions in Europe, in particular on the western and southern borders of Belarus”, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said.
He added that it was about maneuvers “impromptu”, but that their scale – not specified – did not require notifying the details, in particular to the neighbors of Belarus which are Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine, on whose borders Russia has already massed tens of thousands of troops, raising fears among Westerners of an invasion.
Already Russian troops massed in Ukraine
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced exercises on Monday, without specifying the dates. On the same day, Russian Internet users had broadcast a number of videos of whole trains loaded with military equipment, armored vehicles and other vehicles, in western Russia, heading towards the border.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin has, according to Russian agencies, notified 98 foreign military attachés stationed in Moscow that these maneuvers will be held to “repel an external aggression”. In particular, he announced that two S-400 ground-to-air systems and twelve Su-35 fighters would be deployed.
The exercises are taking place in two stages: the first, between now and February 9, involves the deployment of Russian and Belarusian troops to the “endangered areas”, the securing of state and military infrastructures, and the protection of airspace. Then, from February 10 to 20, the actual maneuvers, called “Determination of the union 2022”, must take place on several military bases in Belarus.
The announcement of these exercises comes as Russians and Americans must decide on the follow-up to their diplomatic efforts, after a series of talks which failed to defuse the risk of a new conflict in Ukraine.