Russia and Belarus hold joint military exercises as diplomatic talks ramp back up
10 days of military drills by Russia and Belarus were begun on Thursday in the midst of diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis over the potential incursion into Ukrainian territory by Russia. The military drills began in Belarus and will continue until February 20. Russia stated the exercises practiced a defensive operation and countering terrorism.
The deployment into Belarus is the largest there since the Cold War with an expected 20,000 combat troops, fighter jets, missiles and air defense systems according to NATO. The United States has expressed concerns about the buildup of Russian troops in Belarus. A spokesperson from Russia stated both countries of Belarus and Russia felt the ramp-up in exercises was necessary due to a growing threat from NATO. General Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of Russian General Staff arrived in Belarus ahead of the joint exercises. Satellite imaging has shown camps being set up near the Belarus border with Ukraine.