Kremlin says report that Ukraine is reinforcing Belarus border is a worry

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The Kremlin said on Monday that a Belarusian military report that Ukraine had been moving more troops, weapons and military equipment into its northern Zhytomyr region, which borders Belarus, was a cause for concern.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry alleged that Ukraine was building up its forces on Saturday.

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Ukraine’s border guards dismissed claims from Belarus that it was reinforcing troops on their mutual border, describing the reports as an information operation from Minsk with Moscow’s support.

“It is not the first time Belarus offers information about Ukraine presenting a threat and strengthening itself,” border guard spokesman Andriy Demchenko told Ukrainian TV. “This is another part of the information operation conducted by Belarus with support by Russia.”

He said the border remained a concern, and Ukraine was strengthening it with engineering while maintaining the necessary number of troops to prevent any provocations.

He also said that Belarus had been conducting military exercises since June 21, and that blaming Ukraine for friction at the border could be aligned with those drills.

When asked about the Belarusian build-up claim, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reminded reporters on Monday that Belarus was part of a union state with Russia and that dialogue between Moscow and Minsk, including between their intelligence agencies, was close.

“And our ministries of defense are in constant contact with each other. Of course, this is a cause for concern, not only for Minsk, but also for Moscow, because we are indeed allies and partners.”

Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko would both attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which is taking place in Kazakhstan on July 3-4 and would discuss the matter if they deemed it necessary.

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Belarus, a close Russian ally that has provided support for what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine, said last week that it was reinforcing its border with Ukraine after a security incident and had deployed a division of multiple launch rocket systems to test their combat readiness.

The Belarusian border guard service said its forces had brought down a quadrocopter on Wednesday after it had illegally crossed the border from Ukraine to collect information about Belarusian border infrastructure.

Earlier last week, the border service said materials for a homemade bomb had been found concealed in the same area and that it was aware that a unit of pro-Ukrainian Russian fighters was present in a Ukrainian region bordering Belarus.

With Reuters

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