Belarus Moves Military Gear Amid Fears of Attack on Ukraine

A used MLRS cluster carrier shell is seen in the village of Nova Zoria, Kherson region, Ukraine, Tuesday. (REUTERS/Anna Voitenko)

(Reuters) – Belarus plans to move military equipment and forces on Wednesday and Thursday in what it said was a counterterrorism exercise, amid fears that Russia may mount a new attack on Ukraine from the territory of its Belarusian ally.

“During this period, it is planned to move military equipment and personnel of the national security forces,” the state BelTA news agency cited the country’s Security Council as saying.

“The movement of citizens [transport] along certain public roads and areas would be restricted and the use of imitation weapons for training purposes is planned.”

There was no information on what parts of the country could be affected.

Belarus has said it will not enter the war in neighboring Ukraine, but President Alexander Lukashenko has in the past ordered troops to deploy with Russian forces near the Ukrainian border, citing threats to Belarus from Kyiv and the West.

Belarus and Russia are formally part of a “union state” and are closely allied economically and militarily, with Russia using Belarus as a staging post for its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Belarusian dependence on Russia has deepened after Moscow’s support helped Lukashenko quash a wave of unrest after disputed elections in 2020.

Though Lukashenko had for many years resisted Russian military deployments in Belarus, Moscow’s troops arrived in the country shortly before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, launching its unsuccessful attack on Kyiv from Belarusian territory.

In October, Lukashenko announced a fresh Russian deployment of 9,000 troops to the country as part of a new joint military grouping between the two countries.

Ukraine has been warning for months that it fears that Belarus and Russia could be planning a new incursion across Ukraine’s northern border.

In a statement posted online on Wednesday, Ukraine’s General Staff said, “Enemy units are being trained on the training grounds of the Republic of Belarus,” and that Russian attacks continued to be launched from Belarusian territory.

Last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held talks with his Belarusian counterpart, Viktor Khrenin, to discuss military cooperation.

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