Russia and Belarus will rehearse repelling an external attack when they hold joint military drills in Belarus next month, both sides said on Tuesday, at a time of acute tensions with the West over neighbouring Ukraine.
Russian military forces and hardware began arriving in ex-Soviet Belarus on Monday for the "Allied Resolve" drills to be held near Belarus's western border with NATO members Poland and Lithuania, and close to its southern flank with Ukraine.
The West has voiced fears of a possible invasion of Ukraine by tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered near its border. Russia has denied such plans. read more
"The goal of the exercise is to fine-tune the tasks of suppressing and repelling external aggression during a defensive operation, countering terrorism and protecting the interests of the Union State (Russia and Belarus)," the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Russian Defence Minister Alexander Fomin as saying.