Top Russian commander arrives in Belarus for war games
Russia’s highest-ranking uniformed military officer arrived in Belarus on Wednesday for a full-scale war game with his neighbor over fears the Kremlin could use the military exercise as cover for an invasion of Ukraine.
Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov arrived in the former Soviet nation ahead of a 10-day exercise known as Allied Resolve 2022, the largest joint war game ever between the two, which should start on Thursday.
The exercise comes as Moscow has continued to place troops along its border with Ukraine, with “indications that additional battalion battle groups are on the way,” the Pentagon press secretary said. John KirbyJohn KirbyOvernight Defense and National Security Report Details Frustrations of Afghan Withdrawal Navy Investigates Death of SEAL Candidate After ‘Week From Hell’ Army Inquiry Details Frustrations with White House and Government Status Regarding Afghan Evacuation: MORE Report told reporters later Wednesday.
For weeks, US officials said more than 100,000 Russian troops were along the Ukraine-Russia border, in addition to about 30,000 near the Ukraine-Belarus border, dispelling Western concerns about a two-pronged attack from Moscow. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, meanwhile, said Russia had placed 140,000 of its troops in the region.
Asked about Gerasimov’s arrival in Belarus, Kirby said his presence was not unusual given the impending exercise, but that he should be considered “in the context of what is happening”.
“We are not looking at this exercise in a vacuum, and we understand that senior military leaders are very involved in facilitating this buildup, a buildup that we believe is destabilizing and unnecessary,” Kirby said. “We obviously see that, certainly, in light of what’s going on, but his mere presence at this exercise doesn’t set off alarm bells here at the Pentagon.”
In response to growing threats, Ukraine said its troops would start their own drills on Thursday.
And nearly 3,000 American troops have arrived in Poland and Romania to bolster NATO defenses in the event of a conflict in Ukraine.
While the Biden administration has remained firm that US forces will not enter Ukraine in such a fight and instead threatened crippling sanctions against Russia, the White House gave the Pentagon troop approval in Poland to assist in the evacuation of American citizens from the country. , the Wall Street Journal first reported.
Despite the saber blows, Western officials hope that diplomacy will prevail and that there will not be an episode similar to the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. To this end, French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronMacron says Putin told him he would not escalate Ukraine crisis Macron arrives in Ukraine after talks with Putin traveled to Moscow and Kiev this week, but the trip produced no breakthrough.
And British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was in Moscow on Wednesday for a two-day trip to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
But after months of building up Russia’s military, defense experts warn that Moscow is only weeks away from having everything in place for a major invasion.