Russian airborne troops fell from the sky near Belarus’s western border on Tuesday as part of joint exercises guarded by the US military with political instability in the Eastern European nation.
The combined paratrooper exercises in Russia and Belarus are part of the exercises for the Slavic Brotherhood 2020 which are being carried out in the latter country’s city of Brest, which is close to the border with Poland. The maneuvers are being carried out in the wake of mass protests in the wake of a controversial vote that saw the re-election of longtime President Alexander Lukashenko, who has blamed the West for the unrest.
For support in the midst of the unrest, Lukashenko has turned to Russia, which he on Tuesday called part of Belarus̵
The two nations are locked in a reciprocal EU treaty, and Moscow has joined Minsk to criticize neighboring NATO-Western military allies such as Latvia, Lithuania and Poland for pressuring Lukashenko to leave a plot they see supported. of the United States.
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When the exercises take place at the sensitive border with Poland, where the Pentagon leads a multinational NATO battle group, the US European Command (EUCOM) said Newsweek it had its eyes on the joint Russia-Belarus exercises.
“As with all activity in the region, we are aware of and closely monitor the exercise,” said EUCOM Navy Lieutenant Commander Russ Wolfkiel.
The Slavic Brotherhood exercises are held every year in a traditional trilateral format that also includes Serbia, but Belgrade opted out of the 2020 edition, citing pressure from the European Union on the political situation surrounding Lukashenko’s election. However, Russia and Belarus have continued to estimate 900 staff for the training.
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The goal, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, was to “carry out terrorist tasks as part of a multinational tactical group.”
The Belarussian Ministry of Defense described the primary theme as “implementing joint measures to ensure the security of the Union state.” This included demonstrating readiness to defend Belarus’s territorial integrity, it said.
Lukashenko has claimed that Poland and other Western forces have mobilized troops on the border with Belarus, something these countries have denied. The Polish Ministry of Defense told Newsweek at the beginning of exercises earlier this month that it “monitors military exercises conducted near Polish borders”, and characterized the joint Russia-Belarus training as a largely domestic affair.
“Given the annual nature of the SLAVIC BRODERHOOD exercise as well as the current political situation in Belarus, MoND considers that the recent anti-Polish story expressed by authorities in some countries participating in the exercise is primarily motivated by their internal propaganda needs,” the ministry said in a statement. at that time.
“Unfortunately, the Belarussian government, probably in order to maintain control over the internal situation, presented protests driven by the West,” it added. “We find no justification for such argumentation and military activity as the Belarusian regime declared in this regard.”
Baltic countries and US officials have also expressed concern Newsweek on Russia’s growing role in Belarus, whose forces also trained alongside Russian counterparts and other military personnel as part of the ongoing Kavkaz 2020 strategic exercises.
Moscow has been persuaded to reject foreign interference in Belarus. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the state-run Tass Russian News Agency on Tuesday that efforts to change the constitution to calm public anger should be “determined by our Belarusian neighbors themselves.”
Both Russian and Belarusian officials have warned of Western projects to remove Lukashenko to establish NATO-led hegemony linking the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has set up a special law enforcement unit to respond to Belarus’ instability, but has said he would not distribute the expeditionary force if the situation ran out of control. So far, Lukashenko has maintained his rule of law with hardware that has received further criticism from the West.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed the issue during his meeting on Monday with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau.
“The Secretary-General stressed that the people of Belarus have the right to decide their own future,” a NATO reading said. “He noted that the Alliance is vigilant, strictly defensive and ready to deter all aggression against NATO allies.”