Russia and Belarus launched joint navy drills Thursday which have heightened tensions with the West, as NATO leaders pursued an intensive diplomatic push to stop a feared invasion of Ukraine.
The warfare video games, set to run till February 20, are the newest level of rivalry between Russia and the West over Ukraine, which rapidly denounced the manoeuvres as “psychological strain”.
Leaders in Western capitals have been warning that Russia is making ready to escalate the battle after a build-up of some 100,000 troops round Ukraine.
The US has stated Russia can be dispatching some 30,000 troops to Ukraine’s neighbour Belarus for the workouts that began Thursday.
Moscow and Minsk haven’t disclosed what number of troops are collaborating within the drills, however the Russian defence ministry confirmed Thursday they’d begun.
“The target of the workouts is to practise suppressing and repelling exterior aggression with a defensive operation,” the ministry stated in a press release.
The drills may even give attention to “combating terrorism and defending the pursuits of the Union State,” it stated, referring to an alliance that binds Russia and Belarus militarily and economically.
The Kremlin has insisted the Russian troops will go house after the workouts.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky stated in a press release that “the buildup of forces on the border is psychological strain from our neighbours”.
“At present we have now sufficient forces to honourably defend our nation,” he stated.
The tensions surrounding Ukraine have spurred weeks of intensive talks between Russian, Western and Ukrainian officers aimed toward limiting the possibility of navy motion.
Russia has put ahead sweeping safety calls for to america and the Washington-led NATO navy alliance with the purpose of decreasing their function in jap Europe and former Soviet states.
British Overseas Minister Liz Truss was the newest Western diplomat to journey to Moscow and was scheduled to fulfill together with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Thursday.