Belarusian MoD: Minsk, Moscow Have Decided to Continue Drills Due to Escalation in Eastern Ukraine

© Sputnik / Go to the mediabankTroops take part in the Allied Resolve-2022 drills.
Troops take part in the Allied Resolve-2022 drills. - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.02.2022
The security situation in the Ukrainian breakaways of Donetsk and Lugansk deteriorated significantly in the second part of the past week, with OSCE observers reporting hundreds of violations of the Minsk ceasefire. Donbass authorities responded by starting an evacuation of their civilian populations to Russia, and by mobilizing reserves.
Russia and Belarus will continue military drills due to the deterioration of the security situation in the Donbass, Belarusian Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin has announced.

"In connection with the increase in military activity near the external borders of the Union State [of Russia and Belarus] and the aggravation of the situation in the Donbass, the presidents of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation have decided to continue checks of the response forces of the Union State," Khrenin said Sunday.

The defence minister specified that the drills will involve operational training issues not covered in the large-scale Russian-Belarusian Allied Resolve 2022 exercises being wrapped up, with their focus remaining unchanged - ensuring the capability to react adequately and deescalate any aggression by ill-wishers.
Khrenin warned that the two countries' neighbours have been "pumped up" with modern weapons, and that a priority had been set for offensive arms, as well as the modernisation of military and transport infrastructure.
"Numerous groupings of troops and forces have been created on the territory of neighbouring states, including in third countries. The level of readiness of joint force group NATO emergency response units has improved from seven to five days readiness time in case of a so-called 'escalation of the situation in Ukraine'," he said.
NATO, Khrenin indicated, has "multiplied" the number of exercises near the Union State several times over. "Their orientation against Russia and the Republic of Belarus is also obvious," he said.
"The idea of the inevitability of war with the 'eastern neighbour' has been firmly embedded in the consciousness of the Western man in the street. At the same time, Russia and Belarus are accused of militaristic aspirations. The West refuses to accept the 'red lines' outlined by Russia in the security architecture of Europe, with these red lines also relevant to Belarusians. We can see how the fundamental principle of the indivisibility of security is being rejected," the minister said.
Instead, Khrenin suggested, the West is seeking to "bypass" these red lines, including with concepts about new formats for the military absorption of Ukrainian territory into the Western bloc.

The defence minister also indicated that Belarusian and Russian General Staff were developing steps to prevent a regional war from breaking out.

Russia and Belarus launched the large-scale Allied Resolve-2022 drills last week, with the exercises wrapping up on Sunday. The defensive drills included exercises simulating efforts to repel aggression against the Union State. The exercises involved tank manoeuvres, artillery and air defence drilling, training involving the redeployment of Russian aircraft to Belarus, and naval exercises involving Russian fleets. The exercises also included the simulated defence of Crimea.

Donbass Deterioration

Western officials and media have spent months accusing Russia of planning to "invade Ukraine," even citing a firm 16 February deadline for the incursion to begin. 16 February came and went without incident, prompting the West to update the "Russian invasion" schedule to some time after 20 February.
Instead of a Russian invasion, the past three days have witnessed a dramatic deterioration of the security situation in Donetsk and Lugansk - the self-proclaimed republics which broke off from Ukraine after a coup in Kiev in 2014. On Friday, amid escalating Ukrainian artillery and mortar shelling and sniper attacks, Donbass officials began an evacuation of the civilian population, and called up reserve forces amid fears that Kiev may begin an all-out offensive.
As of Sunday, over 40,000 refugees have arrived in Rostov, the Russian region bordering the Donbass breakaways. Multiple civilian and military casualties have been reported to date amid back-and-forth fire across the line of contact, and Donetsk and Lugansk People's Militia units have reported repulsing Ukrainian offensive and sabotage operations.
Ukraine has accused Russia of escalating Donbass tensions, while Kiev's Western backers have largely ignored the conflict in Donetsk and Lugansk. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Ukrainian authorities to sit down to the negotiating table with Donetsk and Lugansk representatives as soon as possible to resolve the crisis.
An employee with the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination on the ceasefire regime (JCCC) mission, Lugansk People's Republic  - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.02.2022
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