Belarus plans to move military equipment and forces in a “counterterrorism” exercise, the state news agency BelTA has reported, amid fears that Russia could attack Ukraine from the Belarusian border.
“During this period, it is planned to move military equipment and personnel of the national security forces,” the state news agency BelTA cited Belarus’s Security Council as saying.
“The movement of citizens [transport] along certain public roads and areas will be restricted and the use of imitation weapons for training purposes is planned.”
The forces are planned to move on Wednesday and Thursday, but there was no information on which regions would be affected or what form the exercise would take.
For nine months, Belarus has stayed away from direct involvement in the war in Ukraine, but in the past President Alexander Lukashenko has ordered troops to deploy with Russian forces near the Ukrainian border, citing threats to Belarus from Kyiv and the West.
Ukraine has shared its fears for months that Belarus and Russia could be colluding to attack the country from its northern border.
Former Soviet Union states Belarus and Russia are closely allied economically and militarily. Russia used Belarus as a staging post for its failed advance on Kyiv starting on February 24, despite Lukashenko having for many years resisted Russian military deployments in Belarus.
In 2020, Moscow and Minsk depended on their cooperation when Russia helped Lukashenko to quash a wave of pro-democracy protests after disputed elections.
In October, Lukashenko announced a fresh Russian deployment of 9,000 troops to Belarus as part of a new joint military grouping.
“Enemy units are being trained on the training grounds of the Republic of Belarus” and Russian attacks continued to be launched from Belarusian territory, Ukraine’s General Staff said in a statement posted on Facebook.
Last week, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu held talks with his Belarusian counterpart, Viktor Khrenin, to discuss military cooperation.