On Saturday Russia sent a pair of long range nuclear-capable bombers over Belarus in a message to Ukraine and NATO. The Associated Press detailed of the patrol, "The Russian Defense Ministry said the two Tu-22M3 bombers practiced interacting with the Belarusian air force and air defense during a four-hour mission."
Simultaneously, some regional governments in Ukraine are reportedly holding 'civil defense' drills for residents, which has included regular citizens arming themselves, fearing the widely circulating reports of a "Russian invasion" coming.
Over the weekend Belarus' longtime leader and close Putin ally, President Alexander Lukashenko, vowed military support for any Russian military mission that would be in response to a Ukrainian attack in Donbass. While downplaying the likelihood of a major war, Lukashenko predicted that if it happened, "it will last for three or four days at most." Dismissing Ukrainian forces' capabilities, he said, "There is no one there to fight us."
He described that Belarus, like Russia, also has "red lines" in place and that the first step would be cutting off energy, fuel, and industrial supplies to its neighbor to the south: "We will not supply it if they start a war against us or Russia," the Belarusian leader said, according to a translation in Russian media.
Lukashenko echoed Kremlin accusations of Washington ultimately stoking tensions in order to draw Russian into a conflict, so that Moscow and its allies would be severely isolated and sanctioned:
"This is just the essence of the war, about which you and we are having debates now: 'Ukraine will fight'. Well, it is not Ukraine, it is Americans who are pushing it [Ukraine] to war", Lukashenko told the Russian YouTube show "Soloviev Live".
"Do they not see it? Therefore, they understand that it is futile to fight with us, especially with Russia. We are not talking about some kind of nuclear and other weapons. But it is better not to touch us", Lukashenko said.
Already, Russia has deployed advanced missile defense systems to Belarus, along with jets, bombers, and other major military assets - largely in preparation for joint military drills.
Russia's ambassador to the UN lashed out over the weekend...
Madness and scaremongering continues..what if we would say that US could seize London in a week and cause 300K civilian deaths? All this based on our intelligence sources that we won’t disclose.Would it feel right for Americans and Britts?It’s as wrong for Russians and Ukrainians https://t.co/Zai1tpowO7— Dmitry Polyanskiy (@Dpol_un) February 6, 2022
The so-called 'union agreement' between Russia and Belarus goes back to the 1990's, and amid the recent standoff with NATO, the two countries have only deepened their military cooperation, with the Kremlin recently installing early warning radar systems and naval command centers there. Lately, the Biden administration has warned Russia against sending more troops to Belarus, which the US says could number up to 30,000 deployed there.