Russia starts Belarus military drills

The United States also sought an open UN Security Council meeting to discuss the crisis. Source: NBC News.

MOSCOW: Russia started the active phase of military drills in Belarus on Thursday as Britain launched new diplomacy in a standoff over Ukraine, warning Moscow that going to war with its neighbour would be disastrous for Russia, Ukraine and Europe.

US officials have warned that Russia may attack Ukraine after massing troops near its borders, and have accused Moscow of raising tensions further by holding joint military exercises in Belarus with what NATO says is Russia’s biggest deployment to the country since the Cold War.

Russia denies planning an attack, and says it has the right to move its troops as it sees fit across its own territory, and that of its allies with their agreement. It says its military exercises are defensive in nature.

Mirroring the military exercises in Belarus, Ukraine launched its own war games on Thursday that, like Russia’s Allied Resolve drills, will run until Feb. 20.

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The Ukrainian forces, whose numbers have not been disclosed, are set to use Bayraktar drones and anti-tank Javelin and NLAW missiles provided by foreign partners. Kyiv was due to receive a further shipment of U.S. military aid later on Thursday.

At talks in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned Moscow against attacking Ukraine.

“Fundamentally, a war in Ukraine would be disastrous for the Russian and Ukrainian people and for European security andtogether NATO has made it clear that any incursion into Ukraine would have massive consequences and carry severe costs,” she said.

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