MINSK, 24 December (BelTA) – While building their defense partnership Moscow and Minsk take into account the NATO enlargement and the build-up of the alliance's forces along the common borders, Director of the Second Department of the CIS Countries of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alexei Polishchuk said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
According to Alexei Polishchuk, Russia and Belarus are bound by commitments to ensure military security within the framework of integration associations, and the western border of Belarus is the common border of the Belarus-Russia Union State and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, therefore, its joint defense is one of the common priorities of Moscow and Minsk. He added that now a common defense space is being created, a regional grouping of Russian and Belarusian forces and a common air defense system are up and running, joint exercises are regularly held, including such large-scale drills as, for example, Zapad 2021.
“Naturally, we are taking into account changes in the military and political situation, especially the NATO enlargement and the build-up of the alliance's forces along the common borders. These circumstances were also taken into consideration in the updated Union State Military Doctrine approved in early November,” Alexei Polishchuk said.
NATO led by the United States is turning Ukraine into a military foothold. The United States provided $2.5 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including more than $400 million this year alone, and in 2022 Washington plans to allocate another $300 million to Kyiv. This includes a lethal weapons package worth $75 million.
Alexei Polishchuk noted that in 2021, Kyiv and NATO countries held seven joint exercises in the territory of Ukraine, including DEFENDER-Europe, the largest one in a quarter of a century. According to Alexei Polishchuk, nine exercises are scheduled for 2022, and the number of military personnel involved in them will nearly double compared to 2021 up to 64,000, the number of aircraft and helicopters involved will more than triple up to 361, the number of warships will almost quadruple up to 256.
“The scale, coverage and duration of joint exercises of Ukraine and NATO countries are increasing. All exercises are linked by a single concept and are anti-Russian in essence” Alexei Polishchuk said.