Belarus begins exercises near Poland
Amid heightened tensions with the West, Belarus has commenced military exercises, which will train troops to repel potential invaders, the Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.
“The exercise will allow to practice combat (special) operations meant to liberate the territory temporarily occupied by the adversary,” the ministry’s statement read.
The drills will also allow soldiers to hone skills in “restoring control over the state border,” train close air support, implementation of martial law and fighting against an adversary’s commandos or illegal armed groups.
The exercise is expected to last until September 14 and will take place in the Brest region bordering Poland and Ukraine, as well as in the Vitebsk and Minsk regions. Belarus also invited international observers to attend in order to demonstrate “maximum transparency” and the “desire to improve regional stability.”
Belarus started planning the maneuvers after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed in July that NATO was preparing for a war in Eastern Europe, citing increased activity by the military alliance.
“It seems the newly-minted ‘crusaders' from the North Atlantic Alliance suddenly decided that the time is ripe for another ‘Drang nach Osten,’ he said at the time, referring to a German idea of conquering lands in the East.
In August, amid the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Lukashenko called Kiev a threat to Belarus’ national security, accusing the Ukrainian leadership of stoking regional tensions and embracing policies “directed against its own people.”
The drills come on the heels of the Vostok 2022 international military exercises hosted by Russia, in which Belarusian troops also took part.