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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Ukraine Watchful of Borders as Putin Heads to Belarus 

Vladimir Putin heads to Belarus for his first visit in three and a half years

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

UKRAINE: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said protecting Ukraine’s border was “a constant priority” and his country was ready for all potential defence scenarios against Moscow and its ally Belarus, as Russian President Vladimir Putin headed to Belarus, escalating Ukrainian worries that he may try to persuade his ally to join him in a new onslaught.

Months ago, Kyiv officials issued a warning that neighbouring Belarus might join Russian forces and act once more as a base for an invasion to create a second front in the months-long ongoing conflict.

“Protecting our border, both with Russia and Belarus, is our constant priority,” president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday after a meeting with Ukraine’s top official, adding that “we are preparing for all possible defence scenarios.”

On Monday, Putin heads to Belarus for his first trip in three and a half years. The Kremlin has described the trip as a comprehensive “working visit” with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

One of Russia’s closest allies, Belarus, allowed its territory to be used as a staging area for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. 

However, Belarus has not been directly involved in the fighting. Lukashenko has repeatedly stated that he has no intention of sending his nation’s troops to Ukraine. 

Russian battalions that were moved to Belarus in October will undergo battalion-level tactical manoeuvres, as per the Russian Interfax news agency, which cited the Russian defence ministry.

The details of the most recent exercises, like when and where they will take place in Belarus, were not immediately known.

On Monday, “critical infrastructure” in and around Kyiv was struck by Russian airstrikes, Ukrainian authorities stated.

15 out of 20 drones that were aimed at the capital were reportedly destroyed by air defence systems. The greater Kyiv region’s governor reported that private homes were also harmed.

After the attacks, Kyiv’s electrical supplier, YASNO, claimed that emergency power cuts had been reinstated.

Zelenskiy reiterated his plea for Western countries to strengthen Ukraine’s air defences on Sunday, after weeks of Russian airstrikes targeted the nation’s energy infrastructure as a bitter winter approached.

Tens of thousands of people have died as a result of the fighting, and millions have been forced to flee their homes.

Zelenskiy assured Ukrainians that the military forces were firmly entrenched in the town of Bakhmut, the location of the country’s bloodiest fighting in weeks as Russia tried to advance in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province.

Bakhmut’s battlefield is crucial, he said, “We control the town even though the occupiers are doing everything so that no undamaged wall will remain standing.”

Ukrainian forces shelled a hospital in Donetsk city, killing one person and injuring a number of others, said Denis Pushilin, the Russian-installed administrator of the part of the Donetsk area governed by Moscow. 

Putin portrays what he terms Russia’s “special military operation” as a turning point when Moscow ultimately defied a Western bloc led by the United States that was attempting to use the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 to its advantage by destroying Russia.

As per Kiev and the West, Putin has no justification for what they have criticised as an “imperial-style war of occupation” that has given Russia control over approximately a fifth of Ukraine.

Also Read: Putin Says Situation “Extremely Difficult” in Annexed Areas of Ukraine

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