Ukraine launches “special operation” on Belarus border, holds spear drills

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KYIV, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Ukraine, which has accused Russia of gathering troops and says Belarus can send migrants across its borders, launched an operation on Wednesday to strengthen its border, including military exercises for anti-tank and airborne units.

The Ukrainian state border service said the “special operation” at the border with Belarus involved troops from the National Guard, police, armed forces and other reserves.

“Aviation drones will also be used actively for patrolling and surveillance,” the service said in a statement.

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Ukraine has deployed 8,500 extra troops to its border with Belarus, saying it fears being drawn into the migrant crisis, which has led the European Union to accuse Minsk of flying people from the Middle East and forcing them to enter neighboring Poland. . Belarus denies that it has created the crisis.

Kiev is also worried that the border with Belarus, a close Russian ally, could be used by Russia to stage a military offensive.

The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence told the Military Times over the weekend that Russia had more than 92,000 troops gathered around Ukraine’s borders and was preparing for an attack in late January or early February.

Moscow has rejected such proposals as inflammatory and complained about what they say increases activity in the region of the NATO alliance.

OSCE Special Representative Mikko Kinnunen said in a statement that monitoring teams reported damage to civilian homes and infrastructure on both sides of the conflict in eastern Ukrainian regions caused by heavy weapons.

“The average number of daily ceasefire violations has exceeded the figure before the ceasefire measures came into force in July 2020,” he said.

Ukraine’s ties with Russia collapsed in 2014 after Moscow backed separatists who had seized part of eastern Ukraine, territory that Kiev says it wants back.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov visited Washington this week and his ministry said the Ukrainian, British and US intelligence services had exchanged information and that “the same conclusions were reached”.

Reznikov said that during his visit he met with British and US defense ministers who had already begun consultations with other EU and NATO member states.

“The reaction will be very harsh – and, as far as I know, the head of the Kremlin was warned about this directly during the visit of a senior US official to Russia,” Reznikov was quoted as saying.

Ukraine said on Tuesday that it must defend its right to independence and held a series of military exercises across the country.

Ukraine, which is striving to join NATO, received a large batch of American ammunition and Javelin missiles earlier this year, prompting criticism from Moscow. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian navy received two rebuilt former US Coast Guard patrol boats as part of the $ 2.5 billion package of aid to Ukraine. Read more

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Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets; edited by Peter Graff and Alistair Bell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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