Russian bomber flies over Belarus in Ukrainian tensions

Moscow-Russia sent a pair of long-range nuclear-capable bombers on Saturday to patrol its ally Belarus in the midst of intense tensions over Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry said two Tu-22M3 bombers practiced the interaction between the Belarusian Air Force and air defense during a four-hour mission. The flight followed several similar patrols over Belarus, which borders Ukraine to the north.

The mission came when the Kremlin moved troops from Siberia and the Far East to Belarus to wipe out joint training. Deployments were added to Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine, fueling Western fears of possible invasions.

Russia denied plans to attack Ukraine, but provided the United States and its allies with a binding pledge to not accept Ukraine into NATO, deploy offensive weapons, and roll back NATO’s deployment to Eastern Europe. I requested that you do. Washington and NATO rejected the request.

The West called on Russia to withdraw an estimated 100,000 troops from the suburbs of Ukraine, but said the Kremlin would station troops where needed on Russian territory. As tensions over Ukraine increased, Russian troops launched a series of war games from the Arctic to the Black Sea.

The deployment of Russian troops to Belarus has raised concerns in the west that Moscow could launch an attack on Ukraine from the north. Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, is only 75 km (50 miles) from the border with Belarus.

In recent months, Russia has conducted a series of joint trainings with Belarus and repeatedly dispatched long-range nuclear bombers to patrol Belarus, which borders NATO member countries Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Belarusian authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko has become increasingly dependent on the Kremlin’s political and financial support as it undermines western sanctions caused by crackdowns on domestic protests and is closer to Moscow. He called for defense and recently offered to host Russia’s nuclear weapons.

In an interview with Russia’s national television host, which aired on Saturday, Lukashenko temporarily sent troops to Kazakhstan last month to stabilize the situation after a deadly riot by a Russian-led security alliance. At times, he accused him of showing his ability to deploy quickly.

Belarusian leaders downplayed the threat of war, but added that if it still erupted, it would “last at most three or four days.”

“No one fights us,” he said of Ukraine.

On Saturday, the German newspaper Bilt released a report claiming that Russia was ready to attack Ukraine from several directions, occupy major cities and establish a puppet government. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, was angry and dismissed the allegations.

Amid growing fears of war, Ukrainian authorities have launched a series of civil defense trainings for residents.

“I’m here to learn how to protect myself, protect my relatives and understand how to act in that situation,” Kiev resident Ilya Goncharov attends training in the suburbs of the Ukrainian capital. I said after doing. “I’m glad I came here and learned the basics of self-defense and first aid.”

Members of Ukrainian territorial defense
Yuri, 12 years old, February 5, 2022, training with Ukrainian territorial defense forces, military volunteers, near Kiev, Ukraine. (Efrem Lukatsky / AP Photo)
Instructor trains Lumia
The instructor will train Lumia, 59, a member of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Force, near Kiev, Ukraine, on February 5, 2022. (Efrem Lukatsky / AP Photo)

In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, just 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of the Russian border, thousands of people went out to the streets on Saturday with giant yellow and blue flags in the colors of the flags. I did. Protect the city.

“I want to show that there are people in Kharkov who are ready to defend and fight back,” said Marcher Svitlana Garashko.

In a conflict over Ukraine, US President Joe Biden ordered Poland and Germany to have 2,000 US-based troops and another 1,000 from Germany to show US commitment to NATO’s eastern side. Moved to Romania.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin showed that Moscow was ready for further negotiations with Washington and its NATO allies. As part of a high-level diplomacy to ease tensions, French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Moscow and Kiev on Monday and Tuesday, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz travels to Kiev and Moscow from February 14 to 15. To do.

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Macron, “they agreed that finding a diplomatic solution to the current tensions must remain a top priority.”

The Johnson Secretariat also emphasized that he and the President of France “must unite NATO in the face of Russia’s invasion,” and “developed a package of sanctions that would take effect immediately if Russia further invaded Ukraine.” I agreed to continue working together to do so. “

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky also met with European Council President Charles Michel on Saturday, saying on Twitter that tensions over the situation in Ukraine must be lifted.

In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula after a Moscow-friendly leader in Ukraine fled the country. Russia also cast its weight behind the separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine, where more than 14,000 people were killed in combat.

Associated Press