Russia-Ukraine tensions: Russia kickstarts military drills in Belarus

Russia-Ukraine tensions: Russia kickstarts military drills in Belarus
A British service member unloads a shipment of Britain’s security support package for Ukraine, delivered by a C17 Globemaster III aircraft of the Royal Air Force, at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine, February 9, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

The backstory:

  • Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine (a former Soviet state) back in 2014, which caused it to be kicked out of the international military alliance The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Today, there are an estimated 100,000 troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border, worrying people that Russia is looking to invade again, eight years after the first invasion.
  • Russia denies it intends to invade and says that the troops have been positioned there for self-defense. Meanwhile, they’ve sent some demands to the West, including banning Ukraine from ever entering NATO. The United States responded by writing to Russia saying that they wouldn’t ban Ukraine but would find ways to work with Russia where appropriate.

The development:

  • Earlier this week, there was a lot of diplomatic activity between NATO and Russia.
  • Various top Russian officials have indicated that diplomacy is an option and Moscow is preparing responses to the US’ written proposals.
  • Belarus is a close ally of Russia and has a long border with Ukraine. And on Thursday, Russia is set to start 10 days of joint military drills in Belarus with around 30,000 Russian troops.
  • Russia has said that these drills are legal and the troops will leave Belarus after exercises finish on the 20th of this month.
  • But White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the drills were “escalatory" considering everything that was going on in the region.

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