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Russia organizes a large-scale military exercise with Belarus. This raises concerns in Ukraine

Russia held joint maneuvers with Belarus on Thursday in what was being called its largest military exercise ever since the Cold War. According to the White House, the operation represents yet another escalation in tensions at the Ukraine border.

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Russia organizes a large-scale military exercise with Belarus. This raises concerns in Ukraine

Russia organizes a large-scale military exercise with Belarus. This raises concerns in Ukraine

Russia held joint maneuvers with Belarus on Thursday in what was being called its largest military exercise ever since the Cold War. According to the White House, the operation represents yet another escalation in tensions at the Ukraine border.

The exercise, which will be large-scale and last for several days, will end on February 20. According to Russia's Defense Ministry, the joint operation in Belarus will include warplanes and missile launchers as well live-fire exercises. Its purpose is to "suppress and repel external aggression during a defense operation."

Russia sends warships into the Black Sea, as diplomatic talks about Ukraine intensify

NATIONAL SECURITY

Russia sends warships into the Black Sea, as diplomatic talks about Ukraine intensify

Concerns have been raised by NATO and the U.S. about the timing and location of the exercise. Analysts previously suggested that Russia could invade Ukraine via Belarus.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies conducted a study last month and found that Russia could try to "outflank Ukrainian defenses around Kiev" by approaching Belarus.

Attacks on the central or southern Ukraine are another possibility, as is hybrid warfare which combines ground operations and destabilizing online attack.

The U.S. and NATO allies described the deployment of around 30,000 Russian troops to Belarus as the largest since the Cold War ended. It could also have been part of a Russian plan for attacking Ukraine's capital Kyiv. NPR's Charles Maynes reports in Moscow.

Maynes states that "earlier this week, the Kremlin stated its forces would eventually be returning to their home bases in Russia," Maynes said.

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WORLD

Understanding NATO and Ukraine: Why a debate that has been going on for 30 years still drives Putin today

Responding to the exercises, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, stated that the situation hadn't changed much since 2014 when Russia illegally annexed Crimea Peninsula.

Interfax reported that Zelenskyy stated, "The building up of troops along the border is psychological pressure from neighbors." This is nothing new. "Risks exist, and they haven't stopped since 2014.

As Russia strengthens its forces, U.S. troops are deployed in Europe.

NATIONAL SECURITY

As Russia strengthens its forces, U.S. troops are deployed in Europe.

After Russia sent warships to the Black Sea, near Ukraine's south coast, for a naval exercise. This operation quickly raised concerns about the possibility that the ships could be used as a blockade or amphibious assault weapon.

Ukraine's military will conduct its own drills in response to Russian military exercises on its territory.

Jen Psaki, President Biden's press secretary, stated Wednesday that Russia's joint military operation against Belarus is "certainly more of an escalatory than a de-escalatory act," due to the troop movements.

In January, Russia stated that it didn't intend on invading Ukraine, despite having troops and equipment close to the border. Russia was estimated to have around 100,000 troops stationed in the region at the time. According to The Moscow Times, Russia now has around 140,000 troops in the area near the border and in Crimea.

Putin insists that Russians and Ukrainians "are one people". Putin claimed that Russia and Ukraine are "two parts of the same historical space" in a detailed history published last summer.

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