Russia and Belarus have initiated joint military drills on Thursday, set to continue till February 20, in a move which Ukraine calls an attempt to exert âpsychological pressureâ.
Foreign media reports say that the exercises have put multiple Western countries on alert, raising fears that Kremlin was plotting a major conflict in Ukraine.
Moscow promised that it would withdraw its forces from Belarus once the exercises concluded.
Tensions between NATO, Russia and Ukraine have shown no indications of scaling down despite diplomatic activity kicking up this week.
According to France24, Britain on Thursday warned that the coming few days could be âthe most dangerous momentâ in the crisis that has spanned many months.
The exercises are expected to involve tens of thousands of troops, advanced weapons systems and other forces that have been accumulating in Belarus for weeks. In addition, Russian warships have been conducting naval drills off Ukraineâs southern coast.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has announced it has launched its own military exercises that would mirror those being carried out by Russia and Belarus. Military officials have maintained secrecy regarding the drills in an apparent fear of worsening tensions.
Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenksy commented that Ukraine had “enough forces to honorably defend the countryâ.