Russia and Belarus began joint military exercises on Monday, which have triggered fears in Kyiv and the West that Moscow could use its ally to launch a new ground offensive in Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Russia used its neighbour Belarus as a springboard for its invasion of Ukraine last February.
The two allies will conduct air force drills from Jan. 16-Feb. 1 using all Belarus military airfields and began joint army exercises involving a “mechanised brigade subdivision” on Monday, the Belarusian defence ministry said.
Minsk says the air drills are defensive and it will not enter the war.
“We’re maintaining restraint and patience, keeping our gunpowder dry,” said Pavel Muraveyko, first deputy state secretary of Belarusian Security Council, according to a post on the Belarusian defence ministry’s Telegram app on Sunday.
Muraveyko said the situation on the country’s southern border with Ukraine was “not very calm” and that Ukraine has been “provoking” Belarus.