Ukraine is vowing Wednesday that it’s “ready” after its northern neighbor Belarus – which Russia used as a springboard for its invasion – announced military exercises to assess the combat readiness of their armed forces.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry said the exercises that began Wednesday would also be used to assess their military’s ability to operate on “unknown terrain in a rapidly changing situation.”
“We do not rule out that the Russian Federation could at some point use the territory of Belarus, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, against Ukraine,” said Andriy Demchenko, spokesperson for Ukraine’s State Border Service, according to Reuters.
Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in a military drill in Gomel, Belarus on Feb. 19.
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“Therefore, we are ready,” he vowed, reportedly adding that Ukraine has strengthened its border with Belarus since the invasion began on Feb. 24.
Russia held joint military exercises with Belarus prior to its ongoing war in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, and Russian Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin visit the Vostochny cosmodrome. (Evgeny Biyatov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Belarusian officials did not say how many troops are involved in the exercises but noted that their number would be gradually increased.
Belarus’ armored personnel carriers are seen on Feb. 17 during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at a firing range near the town of Osipovichi outside Minsk. (Photo by MAXIM GUCHEK/BELTA/AFP via Getty Images)
It claimed the maneuvers “do not threaten the European community in general and any neighboring countries in particular.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.