Russia will extend military drills in Belarus which were to end on on Sunday, which means Russian troops will not withdraw as previously announced, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said. on Sunday, amid growing Western fears of a invasion of Ukraine.
Khrenin said the troops were going remain in Belarus due to rising tensions in Donbass contested by Ukraine region and “in connection with the increase in military activity near the external borders” of Russia and Belarus.
Incidents of shelling across the line separating Ukraine government Russian-backed armed forces and separatists in this region – which were sporadic in the past – greatly increased last week and more on Sunday.
the decision extending drills beyond Sunday intensifies pressure on Ukraine, like Western leaders and NATO defense covenant warn of an imminent full-climb invasion by Russia.
NATO says the 30,000 soldiers that Russia currently at in Belarus could be part of a planned incursion.
Russia has repeatedly denied plans to invade Ukrainian territory, despite the gathering of around 150,000 troops along the country’s borders, according to Western figures.
Speaking on CNN broadcaster status of the Union ShowsSecretary of the United States of State Antony Blinken said while all signs suggested Russia was on the edge of invade, the United States and its allies use every diplomatic opportunity to deter the Kremlin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and son French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the need for step up the research for diplomatic solutions to the escalating crisis in Eastern Ukraine in a phone call on On Sunday, the Kremlin said in A declaration.
Belarus did not say how long russian troops in Belarus – estimated by NATO at 30,000 – could now remain in the country, which borders Ukraine to the north. Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said the focus of the extended exercises consisted of ” ensure adequate response and de-escalation of military preparations of villains near us common borders.”
The Kremlin has no comment on Belarusian exercises. Russia had previously said troops would return to permanent garrisons once the drills were over. over.
NATO says Russia could use the troops as part of a invasion force for attack Ukraine. Moscow denies such an intention.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Ukrainian president of personnelthe extension told Reuters of the exercises in Belarus highlighted that official Moscow promises should not be considered binding.
Russia and its allies say the West is whipping up tensions by sending NATO reinforcements to Eastern Europe.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said repeated warnings from the West that Russia was about to invade were provocative and could have adverse consequences, without giving details.
western countries are preparing sanctions which they believe would be far-reaching against Russian companies and individuals in Case of a invasion.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a BBC interview broadcast on Sunday that such sanctions could include restrictions on Russian companies » access to the dollar and the pound. However, he acknowledged that such threats might not deter Moscow, saying Putin might “think illogically.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the West should impose some of sanctions now, rather than waiting for a invasion.
Blinken, however, said the sanctions had a chilling effect that should not to be unleashed in front of a attack.
Development of tensions in the last few days has been on the band of eastern Ukraine which Russian-backed rebels seized in 2014, the same year Russia annexed Crimea to Ukraine. Over 14,000 people Was killed in the dispute in ballast.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Sunday for an immediate ceasefire in the eastern part of the country.
On Sunday, a Reuters reporter heard explosions in the center of Donetsk city in Eastern Donbass region controlled by separatists. Heavy shelling was heard elsewhere in the region.
SMS sent to residents of Donetsk urged men report for military duty.
Over 30,000 people from nearby Donetsk and Luhansk crossed the Russian border in the past 24 hoursTASS news the agency said, citing authorities in Russian Rostov region. The separatists began to evacuate residents on Friday saying that Ukraine planned to attack – which Kyiv refuse.
Western allied Kyivs are concerned Russia could use climbing as a pretext for wider conflict.
Local military forces in one of breakaway areas, Luhansk, said on Sunday that two civilians had been killed and five buildings damaged in shelling by Ukraine military. Russia’s Investigative Committee will investigate the case, RIA news the agency quoted him as saying.
Two Ukrainians soldiers would have been killed with four more wounded on Saturday.
The committee international of the Red Cross said water services had been interrupted for more over a million people in the regionand called on all parties to spare civilian infrastructure.
abroad from Ukraine minister Kuleba said Ukraine neither planned nor carried out out any offensive operations.
The resumption of fighting in eastern Ukraine follows a build-up over Several weeks of Russian troops to the north-east and south of the country. The West estimates 150,000 or more Russian troops are currently near the borders of Ukraine.
Russia, which asked NATO to prevent Ukraine from joining the alliance, calls Western warnings that it plans to invade hysterical and dangerous.
However, he warned of unspecified “military”technical”measures if its requirements for NATO’s withdrawal from Eastern Europe is not met.
US President Joe Biden was to summon his top advisers later in the day to discuss the crisis. Biden said on On Saturday, he thought Russia might launch a attack “at any time”, despite Kremlin assurances that some troops were returning to their permanent bases after military exercises.
A Russian diplomat at the United Nations said no-one should tell Russia where and when to perform exercises.