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Pentagon Holds Rare Call With Belarus Army Chief To Avoid “Miscalculation”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Russia and Belarus on Thursday launched hugely provocative planned joint military drills, which were promptly condemned by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as "a very violent gesture." UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded Thursday by saying Europe faces its "biggest security crisis in decades." Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was part of Moscow's efforts at applying "psychological pressure" amid a broader troop build-up threatening the country's borders.

Zelensky said "the accumulation of forces at the border is psychological pressure from our neighbors" – though he also days ago admitted to The Wall Street Journal that a Russian invasion remains "unlikely". "The exercises – known as Allied Resolve 2022 – are taking place close to the Belarusian border with Ukraine, which is a little over 1,000km (620 miles) long. Thursday was the start of the active phase of the drills," BBC detailed of the exercises. "There are fears that if Russia tries to invade Ukraine, the exercises put Russian troops close to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, making an attack on the city easier."

At the same time Russia has just sent six warships from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea ahead of the drills, and a beefed up Russian naval presence is expected in the Sea of Azov as well. Russia's Defense Ministry has stated the aim of the drills as centering around "suppressing and repelling external aggression."

NATO denounced the drills as representing a "dangerous moment" for European security. The US has estimated it believes some 30,000 Russian troops will surge into Belarus as part of the war games.

However, Moscow has not confirmed the numbers, and has sought to assure its troops will return home upon the end of the drills, after Feb.20. Long-range bombers among other aircraft, as well as anti-air defenses have been deployed as part of the exercises. 

Russia's Chief of the General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov is currently in the former Soviet nation overseeing the games with his Belarussian counterpart.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has revealed it held rare military-to-military communications with Belarus for the purpose of avoiding a "miscalculation", the AFP reports.

The avoidance of an unnecessary or inadvertent encounter is of prime importance especially given the drills will involve "live-fire" action on the part of the Russians and Belarussian military.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg earlier warned, "The number of Russian forces is going up. The warning time for a possible attack is going down," a news conference with UK PM Johnson. "Renewed Russian aggression will lead to more NATO presence, not less," he said.


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