Extension of Russia-Belarus drills is confirmation Moscow prepares to invade Ukraine, – Blinken

The continuation of the Russia-Belarus joint military exercises Allied Resolve 2022 is another indication that Russia is preparing the ground for a large-scale invasion of Ukraine this year. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told that in his interview with CNN.

Read also: Kremlin’s goal is not Ukraine, they want the world to be scared, – Ukraine’s Defense Minister

“Everything we see indicates that this is very serious, that we are on the brink of an invasion,” said Antony Blinken.

The Secretary of State added that diplomacy still has a chance to stop the war. In his words, the U.S. continues to try to find a diplomatic way to resolve the conflict.

“Now they’re justifying the continuation of ‘exercises’ that they said would end now, the continuation indefinitely of those quote-unquote exercises on the situation in eastern Ukraine – a situation that they created by continuing to ramp up tensions,” Blinken said.

Later this week, Blinken is scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Europe. The parties to start another round of diplomatic talks amid Russia’s troops’ concentration on Ukraine’s border. Blinken assured the meeting would be called off in the event of an invasion. In addition, President Biden accepted a meeting with President Putin following that engagement, again, if an invasion hasn’t happened.  

As reported February 20, over the past day, 134 units of military equipment were found in the temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, deployed in violation of the Minsk agreements.

Read also: Every fifth Ukrainian estimates probability of Putin’s invasion as high, – poll

February 17, the situation in the Donbas conflict area worsened after a relative lull. As reported earlier, Russia-backed militants shelled a number of civilian facilities, including a school and a kindergarten. 

Find out more details on the attacks here.

Ukrainian intelligence estimates the presence of more than 140,000 troops in the border regions, while experts estimate that 175,000 are needed for an invasion. Already US intelligence says that an eventual attack on the neighboring country by Russia would occur through Crimea and Belarus.

Russian-Belarus joint military drills code-named Allied Resolve 2022 have conducted air and ground operations in Belarus, aiming to reinforce capabilities and sharpen their edge in all-weather combat circumstances. Videos released by the Russia’s Defense Ministry demonstrated the scenarios within the framework of the drills. The Russian and the Belarusian Air Force together conducted patrols along the borders of the two countries.