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Putin to attend military drills together with Lukashenko on February 19

The presence of the Belarusian President at the drills will depend on joint decision with Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW, February 18. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he would participate in military cooperation measures together with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on February 19.

"Of course, we will talk about the regional situation and assess how military cooperation is developing," the head of the Russian state said at a meeting with Lukashenko in the Kremlin, suggesting the agenda.

"Now an active phase of military drills is in progress and tomorrow we will participate in one of serious measures in this series of military cooperation," Putin said.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Friday that Russian President Putin would oversee strategic deterrence force drills scheduled for February 19 from the situation control center.

"Putin will most likely be in the situation control center. Such drills and training launches, naturally, can’t be held without the head of state. You know about the famous nuclear suitcase, the red button and so on," Peskov told reporters.

The presence of Belarusian President Lukashenko at the drills will depend on their joint decision with Putin, Peskov elaborated.

The Belarusian president earlier told reporters that he would be on a visit to Russia on February 18-19, during which he was planning to attend military drills together with Putin. Lukashenko emphasized that "the Russian side will inform" about the place and the format of these maneuvers.

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced earlier on Friday that the Russian Armed Forces would conduct scheduled strategic deterrence force drills on February 19 under the direction of Supreme Commander-in-Chief Putin, during which ballistic and cruise missiles would be launched.

As the ministry emphasized, the strategic deterrence force drills have been planned in advance and are intended "to inspect the preparedness of military command centers, launch combat teams, the crews of combat ships and strategic missile carriers for accomplishing assigned missions and the reliability of the strategic nuclear and conventional forces’ weapons.".