BARANOVICHI, Belarus – The Russian and Belarusian military forces staged a mock battle on Saturday, with fighter jets, tanks and missile launchers striking a military training ground covered in mud, wind swirling around the border. border Ukraine about 70 miles to the north.
The military drills, which were planned in advance, took place on the penultimate day of a 10-day joint exercise involving the largest deployment of Russian troops on the territory of Belarus, a country. neighbors and close allies, since the end of the Cold War.
NATO officials have warned that the maneuvers could create a cover-up for an attack on Ukraine. But there was no sign there on Saturday of any preparations for actual rather than pretend war, with soldiers surrounded by military attaches from Ukraine and several NATO countries, including including the United States, Poland, and Turkey, saw an ear-splitting barrage of rockets and bombs. back a fake enemy attack.
The military exercise, called Allied Resolve 2022, revolves around a fictional conflict between an belligerent alliance of NATO-backed adversaries and two established nations representing Belarus and the Federation. Russia.
Under the Kremlin’s scenario that Russia is the victim rather than the aggressor, Saturday’s drills southwest of the Belarusian capital Minsk represented a counter-offensive to free territory occupied by the enemy. hold. Signaling the power Moscow had at hand in the event of actual war, a Russian Tupolev strategic bomber flew over the battlefield pretending to be escorted by fighter jets.
“If you want peace, you have to prepare for war,” said Aleksandr Volfovich, state secretary of the Belarusian security council. He declared the successful exercise demonstrating the “determination and readiness” of Belarusian and Russian forces to successfully repel any attack.
Asked if Belarus would support Russia in any invasion of Ukraine, he said: “Belarus did not help Russia occupy Ukraine. Russia does not need to occupy Ukraine. Belarus is a country of kindness and peace. We very much hope to live with everyone in peace.”
Western officials expressed concern that Russian troops could stay in Belarus rather than return to their often remote local bases in Russia. Volfovich declined to comment on that possibility, but said that the forces participating in the exercise would conduct “checks” within days of the official conclusion of the exercise on Sunday.
“Then the decision will be made,” he said.
When asked about the possibility of Russia and Belarus invading Ukraine, a young soldier who only gave his name, Kiril, laughed and said: “I have other plans. I will meet my grandmother tomorrow in Vitebsk,” a Belarusian town on the opposite side of the country near Russia and far from Ukraine.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/20/world/europe/russia-and-belarus-stage-a-pretend-battle-as-the-threat-of-a-real-one-looms-in-neighboring-ukraine.html Russia and Belarus pretend the battle as the threat of a real loom in Ukraine