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‘Allied Resolve’ begins Troops spotted near the border with Ukraine as Russian forces arrive in Belarus for joint military drills

Source: Meduza

The “Allied Resolve” joint military exercises between Russia and Belarus are underway. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Wednesday, January 19, that Russian forces have begun to arrive in Belarus for the first phase of the maneuvers, which will last until February 9. The second phase will run from February 10–20. According to open-source reports, Russian troops and hardware have already been spotted within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of the Belarusian border with Ukraine. Taking place against the backdrop of a flurry of diplomatic talks, the military exercises have further stoked international fears that Moscow is planning to launch an attack on Ukraine. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov insisted on Wednesday that the drills are not cause for concern.

Russian troops have begun to arrive in Belarus, where they will be taking part in joint military drills over the next few weeks, Interfax reported on Wednesday, January 19, citing the Russian Defense Ministry. The troops are traveling from Russia’s Eastern Military District, along with standard equipment and weapons transported by rail.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry reported the arrival of the first Russian units a day earlier, on Tuesday, January 18, noting that forces will be arriving throughout the entire first phase of the military maneuvers. Dubbed “Allied Resolve — 2022,” the drills will involve two phases, the first of which is already underway and is set to continue until February 9. The second phase is scheduled for February 10–20. 

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On Tuesday, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said that the first phase will focus on assessing the border and air defense capabilities of Russian and Belarusian troops. Fomin also noted that 12 SU-35 fighter jets, two divisions of S-400 air defense systems, and a division of Pantsir-S air defense systems were being transferred to Belarus. 

Open-source investigators from the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) reported that judging by photos and videos posted on social media, Russian hardware is being brought to a camp in the immediate vicinity of Belarus’s border with Ukraine. Equipment has been seen near the Rechnitsa station in the Gomel region, which is just over 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the border with Ukraine’s Chernihiv region and 90 kilometers (56 miles) from the Kyiv region. Russian military personnel were also spotted in the area, which isn’t home to any of the training grounds where the military exercises are supposed to take place. 

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov maintains that the joint military drills shouldn’t cause any concern. “I assure you, there’s no reason to worry about anything in connection with these exercises,” Ryabkov said at the Valdai International Discussion Club on Wednesday, commenting on a White House statement warning that the Russian-Belarusian drills could be preparations for an incursion into Ukraine. 

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that in Washington’s view, Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine “at any point.” “President Putin has created this crisis by amassing 100,000 Russian troops along Ukraine's borders. This includes moving Russian troops into Belarus, recently, for joint exercises, and conducting additional exercises on Ukraine’s eastern border,” Psaki underscored during a press briefing. 

Western media began reporting on a renewed Russian troop buildup along the border with Ukraine in the fall of 2021. The mobilization has stoked international concerns that Moscow is planning to launch another invasion of Ukraine, despite denials from Russian officials. Both the United States and the European Union have promised to impose harsh economic sanctions on Russia in the event of an invasion, including against President Vladimir Putin and top Russian officials. 

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Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart