Russia and Belarus agree on a joint deployment of forces

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Russia and Belarus agree on a joint deployment of forces

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and his Belarussian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, have agreed on Monday the deployment of joint troopsin the region after a security meeting. Lukashenko has indicated that the measure has been taken “in relation to the worsening of the situation on the western border of both countries”. “If the threat level reaches the current level, as it is now, we will start using this group,” he has noted.

“I must inform you that the formation of this group has already begun. (…) I have already given the order for it to be formed,” the Belarusian president asserted, according to information from the BelTA news agency. Lukashenko has pointed out, however, that Russia “is not looking for this type of conflict right now”. “They already have too many problems. Therefore, we do not have a large number of Russian forces for the contingent,” he said. “Be prepared to receive these people in the near future and give them whatever is necessary, as established and without aggravating the situation,” he said in statements addressed to the Ministry of Defense.

The agreement comes at the height of the escalation of tension between the opposing parties. Putin's response to the Saturday attack on the only bridge linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula has come in the form of bombings on the as main Ukrainian cities, including the capitall, kyiv. The Ukrainian presidency has called on the population to stay in the shelters and not go to the city centers if it is not strictly necessary. The Ukrainian president, Volodomir Zelensky, has confirmed the existence of deaths -at least eight counted so far-. In addition to the capital, kyiv, cities such as Zaporiyia, Lviv, Dnipro, Mikolayev and Zitomir, among others, have also been bombed.