The Pentagon and US intelligence is said to be watching Ukraine’s northern neighbor Belarus very closely, given Moscow’s recent statements confirming it is currently moving more S-400 missile systems into the allied country.
“Russia is moving two divisions of its S-400 Triumph air-defense systems, designed to take down enemy warplanes, into neighboring Belarus to take part in military exercises, the Ministry of Defense confirmed on Friday,” Russian state sources report.
S-400 missiles are reportedly being transported to Belarus all the way from Russia’s far east. While it comes as tensions are on edge, as the world’s eyes are watching the Russia-Ukraine border, the transfer of major military hardware to Minsk is said to be part of preparations for joint Belarus-Russian war drills set to run February 10 through 20.
The exercises will in part be aimed at “reinforcing the state border.” This is also likely intended as a response to this week’s White House-ordered “lethal aid” delivery to Ukraine’s military. The UK has also been flying in repeat plane-loads of weaponry, most likely including anti-tank missiles.
According to Pentagon officials cited in Fox News, there’s concern that Russia can much more easily target Kiev if it wants, given all its military assets in Belarus:
Advanced Russian fighter jets have now arrived in Belarus, north of Ukraine. The Pentagon is concerned that Ukraine’s capital is “now in the crosshairs,” another official added.
But Russia has repeatedly sought to assure the West that there are no “invasion plans” – as has been the charge over the last two months.
But both sides are now accusing the other over the potential for a provocation which could quickly result in a shooting war on the ground. Likely any conflict should it erupt would center in Donbass, in Ukraine’s east.