Russia Belarus military drills ‘huge concern’ for Ukraine ‘quicker mobilisation’ – expert


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Dr Liana Semchuk, a Eurasia intelligence analyst at strategic advisory firm Sibylline, warned how such drills between the two nations could allow Russian President Vladimir Putin “quicker mobilisation” of his army in the event that he gives the green flag for an invasion of Ukraine.

 

Dr Semchuk went on to stress how the presence of the Russian army in Belarus could also be a major area of contention in years to come as President Putin could use the nation as his backyard to keep hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the edge of Europe is an affront to Nato.

Explaining the relationship between Mr Putin and Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, Dr Semchuk said how while before Mr Lukashenko was “reluctant” to allow a substantial Russian military presence in Belarus, we have now seen “quite a few joint military drills between the two countries” which she said is a concern when considering Ukraine’s security.

She noted how more exercises planned later this month, on February 10 and 20 follow “substantial” drills conducted in September and November which the political expert warned could be the start of a more concerning era in the region.

The November drills saw Russian paratroopers conduct drops along the Polish border, two Russian soldiers died in the drills after their parachutes failed to release.

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Analysing the drills, Dr Semchuk said: “That is definitely a huge concern firstly for Ukraine and Ukraine’s security on its northern border with Belarus.”

She said this is partly down to the droves of “leftover military equipment even after these exercises end” which she said were signifiers of broader plans of the hellbent duo.

Dr Semchuk suggested that, concerningly, this might in fact “allow for a quicker and swifter mobilisation in the future” should Russia “choose to pursue” a more aggressive tactic against Ukraine, such as an invasion, with leftover military gear in Belarus providing convenience for Mr Putin.

But regardless of whether Mr Putin does or does not invade, Dr Semchuk was clear that a “permanent Russian military in Belarus will certainly be an advantage to the Kremlin” and spell real fears for Ukraine and Nato, given the proximity of Belarus to key Nato allies such as Poland and the Baltic states.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson travelled to the Ukraine capital of Kiev on Tuesday morning to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a sign of unity and strength against Russian aggression.

Mr Johnson pledged major support of Ukraine amid failure from European leaders to jump to the support of Mr Zelensky.

It comes as western leaders are increasingly concerned Moscow is plotting a full-scale invasion of the former Soviet territory after the Russian president has amassed over 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine.

Mr Putin has claimed the troop build up in response to Nato aggression.


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