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Belarus-Russia military drills vital amid NATO, Ukraine’s actions, says Lukashenko

During the joint drills, large amounts of military hardware to be relocated to Belarus from Russia

MINSK, February 3. /TASS/. The Belarus-Russia drills in the republic’s south are important amid NATO’s and Ukraine’s actions, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Thursday.

"This is very important for us because we are planning to purchase from you this and next year and after that practically all the materiel that will be deployed here," the BelTA news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying.

"This is very important not only for us. This is critically vital for our Union State today, considering the behavior of NATO and Ukraine that is seeking to join the alliance, and that is why we want to be trained," the Belarusian leader pointed out.

During the joint drills, large amounts of military hardware, including advanced materiel, will be relocated to Belarus from Russia, Lukashenko said.

"It is very important for us for our people not only to see videos of this hardware but also so they can touch it, and so that we learn to operate these weapons jointly with the Russians, with our brothers," the Belarusian leader said.

The Russian troops will soon complete their deployment to Belarus for the joint drills, Lukashenko said.

"We are conducting the drills and we agreed, including with you, that we would choose a time for these exercises so that we would not interfere with the activities in the national economy and agribusiness. And we will conduct massive drills in the south of Belarus," he said.

"We discussed this issue with the president [Russian President Vladimir Putin] twice. And we perfected the designs all this time. The relocation of the troops from the Russian Federation will be completed soon," Lukashenko said.

Belarus also faces the task of strengthening the border with Ukraine, he said.

"I do not conceal it. Today, unfortunately, the southern flank is being exposed. We can’t get away from it. We are forced to strengthen the border with Ukraine," the Belarusian leader said.

The Russian and Belarusian troops are currently involved in an inspection of the Union State’s forces. The inspection will end with the Union Resolve 2022 joint drills that will run on February 10-22 on Belarusian soil. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu has arrived in Minsk where he will inspect the troops accomplishing their assigned missions during the drills jointly with his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrenin.