Moscow warns of a “collective response” to any attack on Russia or Belarus, as the allies prepare to conduct joint military exercises.
A Russian Foreign Ministry official said that Belarus could enter the Ukraine conflict if Kyiv decides to “invade” Belarus or Russia.
In an interview with state media broadcast on Friday, Alexei Polishchuk said the looming Russian military exercises with Belarus are aimed at preventing escalation, but warned that Moscow’s closest ally might join the war effort.
“From a legal point of view, the use of military force by the Kyiv regime or the invasion of the territory of Belarus or Russia by the armed forces of Ukraine are sufficient reasons for a collective response,” Polishchuk told the state-owned newspaper Tass. Agency.
Russia used Belarus as a springboard for its invasion of Ukraine last February, deploying thousands of troops to its neighbor under the pretext of military exercises before launching its offensive.
The two countries have since agreed to step up their military cooperation and plan to hold joint air exercises in Belarus next week.
The exercise has fueled speculation that Moscow may use its close ally to launch a new offensive into Ukraine from the north in the near future, opening up a new front.
But Ukrainian officials have talked about the possibility of an attack from Belarus linked to the upcoming exercises.
“I will not associate the Air Force exercises, which will be on the territory of Belarus, with massive missile strikes,” Serhiy Popko, the head of the military department in Kyiv, said on Friday.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that while Ukraine should be ready on its border with Belarus, “we understand that apart from strong statements, we don’t see anything strong there.”
Belarus supported Russia over its invasion of Ukraine but has repeatedly ruled out joining the conflict.
According to Kaif, Russia continues to use Belarusian airspace for drone and missile attacks.
Last month, Belarus summoned Ukraine’s ambassador to the country after it said Minsk had shot down a Ukrainian S-300 air defense missile in a field.
Ukraine’s defense ministry said it would investigate the incident and suggested it may have been a Russian provocation.
The missile fell as Russia was firing at cities across Ukraine, in one of the biggest waves of attacks since the start of the conflict.