Russia and Belarus are holding another week of joint military exercises, the Belarusian defense ministry said on Tuesday, the latest sign of cooperation between neighboring allies during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“During the week, military representatives of the two countries will practice joint planning of troop deployments based on past experience of armed conflict in recent years,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said the purpose of the training is to improve the compatibility of the two armies and is part of preparation for the joint Union Shield 2023 exercises the two countries will hold in Russia in September.
The announcement of the new exercises comes as Russian and Belarusian aviation combat units continue to conduct training missions during joint flight and tactical exercises of the two countries’ air forces.
The exercises will be held at the Ruzhansky training ground in Belarus, about 150 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed a plan to set up joint military training centers with Belarus, Agence France-Presse said.
In a decree published Tuesday, Putin instructed defense and foreign ministers to hold talks with Belarus and sign an agreement to establish the facilities, AFP reported.
The document did not specify where they would be based.
Some context: An announcement by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in October that his country and Russia would form a joint regional force and conduct exercises set alarm bells ringing in Kiev.
The last time Belarusian and Russian troops held joint exercises, in February last year, many of those Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian border in their ill-fated advance towards the capital.
But Western officials speaking to media this week doubted Russia could launch an offensive from Belarus in the coming months.
However, the presence of the Russian troops would prompt Ukraine to station its troops in that direction to “offset that potential risk,” the officials said, even as they stressed that it is “enormously unlikely” that Belarus would “make an advance”. will be in the coming months.”