Satellite imagery shows much Russian hardware has been moved to locations close to Ukraine border

Valery Gerasimov, the head of the Russian general staff, arrived in Belarus on Wednesday to oversee the drills.

Russia has moved up to 30,000 troops, two battalions of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and numerous fighter jets into Belarus for joint training exercises with the Belarusian army. Satellite imagery shows much of the hardware has been moved to locations close to the border with Ukraine.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, reportedly told France’s Emmanuel Macron this week that the troops would leave Belarus when the exercises ended on 20 February. Even if that does happen, the drills show that Belarusian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, is a firm ally in Putin’s Ukraine policy.

“Lukashenko will not be able to resist giving Belarusian territory for whatever purposes Russia needs it, whether it’s marching through, using Belarusian military facilities, airbases, maybe potentially even the air defence system,” said Artyom Shraibman, a Belarusian political analyst.

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