There have been two major developments which threaten to further put Russia and NATO on a collision course in Ukraine. First, Russia and Belarus have initiated joint snap military drills on the latter's soil, with a large contingency of Russian troops arriving Tuesday in the country for a new wave of military exercises.
Second, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has unveiled in a speech before UK parliament delivered Monday that Britain will send Ukraine weapons as part of a new defense assistance package in order to help "defend its borders" against Russian aggression.
All of this comes the very week following a series of meetings between Kremlin officials and NATO, which failed to produce any results or even an extension of dialogue, for now at least. This also as on Tuesday Germany Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow for the first time, as Berlin has vowed to do all it can to "guarantee Ukraine's security."
The AFP described that in Belarus, video put out by the Lukashenko government showed "columns of military vehicles including tanks being unloaded from trains blanketed in snow."
A Russian defense ministry statement specifically informed the West that the fresh drills are aimed presence at NATO, raising tensions higher:
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin summoned dozens of foreign military diplomats stationed in Moscow — including 16 from NATO member countries — to announce the drills in Belarus, which he said were aimed at "thwarting external aggression."
Video published by Belarus' defense ministry:
The Russian official additionally informed NATO diplomats that its "S-400 missile systems, which Russia has controversially sold to NATO member Turkey, would be deployed as part of the exercises in Belarus."
Western backers of Ukraine are also now busy ramping up support, with the announced UK arms supplies already being flown into Kiev:
"We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armor defensive weapons systems," Wallace told the Commons on Monday, adding that “a small number” of British troops would provide training to help Kyiv’s forces in using them.
This reportedly includes anti-tanks weapons, but it has remained officially undisclosed how many weapons are being supplied at what type. "Let me be clear: this support is for short-range and clearly defensive weapon capabilities; they are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia; they are to use in self-defense," Wallace told MPs on Monday.
Of course, this military build-up in the region greatly increases the chances of a 'provocation' which could lead to a shooting war at any moment. Washington has already floated the likelihood of a false flag incident, which it accused Moscow of preparing.