Satellite photographs released on Sunday by a private American business revealed details of military manoeuvres along the Belarus-Ukraine border, ahead of joint training announced by Moscow and Minsk, which NATO has described as the largest deployment to Belarus since the Cold War.
The news: Russia and Belarus have announced that on February 10-20, they will perform a combined exercise named Union Resolve 2022 to prepare for an attack on their alliance’s southern frontiers, and Russia has provided some information on the missiles and jets it will send.
- The increased deployment and planned exercises come at a time when tensions between Russia and the West are at an all-time high over Russia’s massing of soldiers along its Ukrainian border. Russia has been accused by Western countries of planning an invasion of Ukraine, but Moscow rejects such preparations.
- Military units armed with missiles, multiple rocket launchers, and attack planes had moved to Belarus at three places along the Ukrainian border, according to pictures from Maxar Technologies in the United States.
- A request for comment from the Russian defence ministry was not immediately returned. On Sunday, calls to Belarusian military officials went unanswered.
What’s going on: On February 4, Maxar Technologies said it gathered photographs of military weaponry near Yelsk, Rechitsa, and Luninets. The Ukrainian border is only about 50 kilometres (30 miles) away from all of the locations.
- Satellite photographs revealed 15 Su-25 ground attack aircraft and an S-400 air defence system at Luninets airfield, as well as SS26 Iskander missiles and several rocket launchers near Yelsk, according to Maxar Technologies.
- The Russian defence ministry announced on Saturday that S-400 missile systems and Su-25 fighters had been dispatched to the manoeuvres. On Thursday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu paid a visit to a fire range in western Belarus ahead of the drills.
- The Russian manoeuvres in Belarus, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, are the largest Russian deployment in the area since the Cold War, and include nuclear-capable Iskander missiles.