Russia has promised transparency on a military maneuver in Belarus planned for mid-February.
Moscow – The background is fears in the West that Russia could attack Ukraine from northern Belarus. Although Russia is not obliged to do so, military attachés from other countries have been informed about the joint exercise with Belarus, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said in Moscow on Tuesday, according to the Interfax news agency. The decision to take this step was voluntary. The maneuver is expected to last ten days.
According to Shoigu, the total number of soldiers does not exceed the maximum number stipulated in the 2011 Vienna Document. That means there will be fewer than 13,000 soldiers, 300 tanks, 500 armored vehicles and 3,500 paratroopers.
Moscow and Minsk are planning a joint military exercise from February 10-20, which has raised concerns in the West given the current Ukraine crisis. The maneuver is to be held, among other things, in the south of Belarus (Belarus) on the border with Ukraine. Shoigu spoke of five practice areas. Russia has already transferred soldiers and military equipment to the neighboring country. Some have traveled a distance of up to 10,000 kilometers, Shoigu said.
According to the US Department of Defense, Russia continued its troop deployment to Belarus last weekend. Washington did not give any figures. The transfer of soldiers to Ukraine’s neighboring country raises fears that Russia may intend to attack Ukraine from the north, it said. The Ukrainian capital of Kiev is just 80 kilometers from the Belarusian border. Russia has denied allegations of planning an attack on Ukraine. (dpa)