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19 Jan, 2022 19:29

Russian troop movement into Belarus shows Moscow could launch attack on Ukraine ‘at any point’ – State Department

Troops from Russia and Belarus to hold joint exercises next month
Russian troop movement into Belarus shows Moscow could launch attack on Ukraine ‘at any point’ – State Department

The upcoming Russian-Belarusian military exercises could be linked to Moscow’s “plans for a possible invasion” of Ukraine and are a show of force designed to provoke a crisis for a potential attack, the US State Department said on Tuesday.

“We are very alert to everything that Russia is doing. The fact that we’re seeing this movement of forces into Belarus clearly gives the Russians another approach should they decide to take further military action against Ukraine,” the unnamed official said. “We are concerned across several dimensions about Russia creating a pretext for a possible invasion.”

The statement comes as tensions between Russia and Ukraine remain at an all-time high. In recent months, Western media outlets and politicians have accused Moscow of concentrating troops and military equipment on the border with Ukraine, allegedly with a view to launching an offensive in the near future.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied the claims, stating that Russia is simply moving its armed forces within its territory and that reports of an attack are groundless. However, according to the Americans, an invasion could be imminent.

“President Putin created this crisis by amassing 100,000 Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders. This includes moving Russian forces into Belarus over the weekend. This is neither an exercise nor normal troop movement. It is a show of strength designed to cause or give false pretext for a crisis as Russia plans for a possible invasion,” the official said. “And let’s be clear: This is extremely dangerous. We are now at a stage where Russia could, at any point, launch an attack on Ukraine.”

Russia and Belarus are to hold Union Resolve 2022 drills from February 10 to 20, as part of an inspection of the two nations’ ability for a joint response. Before that, the two militaries “will practice redeploying troops and creating task forces within a short period of time in dangerous directions,” according to the head of the Belarusian Defense Ministry’s International Military Cooperation Department, Oleg Voinov. During the exercises, they will practice “reinforcing the state border.”