The US State Department linked the upcoming Russian-Belarusian military exercises to the alleged Moscow’s “plans for a possible invasion” of Ukraine. This was voiced by the White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“We are very alert to everything that Russia is doing. The fact that we’re seeing this movement of forces into Belarus clearly gives the Russians another approach should they decide to take further military action against Ukraine,” the unnamed official said. “We are concerned across several dimensions about Russia creating a pretext for a possible invasion.”
She went on to say that it is Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who created “this crisis by amassing 100,000 Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders.”
“This includes moving Russian forces into Belarus over the weekend. This is neither an exercise nor a normal troop movement. It is a show of strength designed to cause or give a false pretext for a crisis as Russia plans for a possible invasion,” the US official claimed. “So let’s be clear, our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation […] We’re now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine.”
The movement of Russian troops to Belarus shook not only the US but also Germany. German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, claimed that “over a hundred thousand Russian troops are stationed on the border with Ukraine.”
“In recent weeks, more than a hundred thousand Russian military personnel and military equipment have been concentrated near Ukraine for no apparent reason,” she said at a press conference following talks with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
In turn, the Head of the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow cannot accept demands regarding the movement of military personnel on its own territory, Interfax reports.
“We also explained that the ‘escalation’, which is now being heard from the mouths of many Western politicians, and at the same time means the presence of our own troops on our own territory and carrying out the necessary measures for combat training, which any country does, and explained that we cannot accept any requirements concerning our armed forces on our own land,” he said at a press conference in Moscow.
“As for the consequences, […] we have not given and are not giving any reasons to create some new conflict situation. We demand only one thing: that what was agreed upon be carried out scrupulously,” Lavrov stressed.
The Minister added that even though Russia itself is not threatening anyone with anything, it still hears threats against itself.
“I hope that all this reflects only certain emotions that certain forces arouse within the camp of Western countries. We will be guided by concrete steps, concrete actions, and depending on what concrete steps our partners will take, we will, of course, determine our reaction,” Lavrov concluded.
As recalled, Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, has already previously told that Russia and Belarus were going to hold joint military exercises in February. Earlier, he noted that the exact date of the start of the manoeuvres has not yet been set. The Belarusian leader assumed that Western countries would start making their accusations, so he gave an order to the country’s Defence Minister in advance, to announce the preparations for the joint military training, so that it did not look like a sudden movement of troops.
“Define, inform, so that we are not reproached that we have pulled some troops here for no reason as if we are going to fight,” the President then instructed the Head of the country’s Defence Ministry Viktor Khrenin.
Though, the movement of Russian troops to Belarus for the “Allied Determination 2022” exercise anyway alerted the West, as noticed by the Russian Ambassador to Minsk Boris Gryzlov. He warned that Western countries will launch active propaganda mentioning alleged emerging threats following basically any news about the joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus.
“Certainly, in the news about any of our drills, the Western propaganda machine becomes active using all sorts of false information about pseudo-threats,” he said.
As Gryzlov explained, the exercises like are going to start soon are not something out of the ordinary, but only a regular check of military readiness.