Ukraine launches ‘special operation’ on Belarus border, holds military drills

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Members of the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service take part in a training session near the border with Belarus and Poland in the Volyn region on November 16.Gleb Garanich / Reuters

Ukraine, which has accused Russia of massive troops and says Belarus may be sending migrants to its borders, on Wednesday launched a campaign to bolster its border, including with anti-tank and airborne units. Including military exercises.

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The Ukrainian State Border Service said troops from the National Guard, police, armed forces and other reserves were involved in a “special operation” along the border with Belarus.

“Aviation, drones will also be actively used for patrolling and surveillance,” the service said in a statement.

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Ukraine has deployed an additional 8,500 troops to its border with Belarus, saying it fears involvement in the migrant crisis, which has accused the European Union of blowing people from the Middle East over Minsk and allowing them to enter neighboring Poland. accused of motivating. Belarus has denied provoking the crisis.

Kiev also worries that the border with Russia’s close ally Belarus could be used by Russia for military strikes.

Ukraine’s head of military intelligence told a Military Times outlet this weekend that Russia had more than 92,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders and was preparing for an attack by late January or early February.

Moscow has dismissed such suggestions as provocative and complains that there is increasing activity in the region by the NATO alliance.

OSCE Special Representative Mikko Kinunen said in a statement that surveillance teams reported damage to civilian homes and infrastructure on both sides of the conflict in eastern Ukrainian regions due to heavy weapons.

“The average number of daily ceasefire violations has exceeded the figure before the implementation of measures to strengthen the ceasefire in July 2020,” he said.

Ukraine’s ties with Russia were torn apart in 2014 when Moscow backed separatists, who seized a portion of eastern Ukraine, which Kiev says it wants back.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksey Reznikov visited Washington this week and his ministry said Ukrainian, British and US intelligence had exchanged information and “similar conclusions were obtained”.

Reznikov said that during his visit he met with British and US defense ministers, who had already begun consultations with other EU and NATO member states.

“The response will be very harsh – and, as far as I know, the head of the Kremlin was warned about this directly during a visit by a high US official to Russia,” the ministry quoted Reznikov as saying.

Ukraine said on Tuesday that it has to defend its right to freedom and conducted a series of military exercises across the country.

Ukraine, which wants to join NATO, received a large consignment of American ammunition and Javelin missiles earlier this year, drawing criticism from Moscow. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian Navy received two former US Coast Guard patrol boats as part of $2.5 billion in aid to Ukraine.

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