U.S. television networks CBS and NBC reported on Thursday that Russia had started a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The news came as Russian President Vladimir Putin held a 105-minute phone call with France’s Emmanuel Macron and agreed to continue diplomacy.
On Thursday, the Ukrainian military claimed to have downed five Russian Su-30s planes and a Mi-28N helicopter in the east of the country near a rebel-held enclave, reported DW News.
“According to the Joint Forces Command, today, February 24, in the area of the Joint Forces operation, five planes and a helicopter of the aggressors were shot down,” the army general staff said.
New sanctions have been imposed on Russia by the West, Japan, and Australia to order troops into eastern Ukraine’s separatist regions.
EU, Japan, Australia and the U.S. are also going ahead with the toughest sanctions against Russian as Russia launched an all-out invasion of its neighbour.
EU and U.S. should impose the same sanction on Belarus for aiding Russia in this invasion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military operation in Ukraine on Thursday with explosions heard across the country and its foreign minister warning a “full-scale invasion” was underway.
DW News reported that the Russian Army had launched an attack on Ukraine from all sides, including Belarusian territories border with Ukraine.
Kremlin has stationed 30,000 combat troops, elite Spetsnaz units, Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 missile defence systems in Belarus. Russian forces are stationed close to the Belarus border and within striking distance of Kyiv, 160 miles (260km) away. The U.S. and U.K. have warned Moscow is planning to attack the Ukrainian capital.
Khoyniki, some 50 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border, was not originally on the Belarusian Defense Ministry’s map for the military units, but the military issued a new map when they began on February 10 after the appearance of Russian forces in the area was widely reported. Yet another map with additional locations of Russian forces was issued on February 15.
According to a Telegram channel covering developments on Belarus’s railroads, the Russians began unloading military equipment in Khoyniki on February 14-15. The channel reported that soldiers unloading equipment frequently remain on the tracks even as other trains approach within 200 meters of them.
As tension mounted amid reports of increased shelling in eastern Ukraine, adding to fears that Russia could launch a new offensive against its neighbor, authoritarian Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 18. President Vladimir Putin has backed authoritarian Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka to remain in power, and Lukashenka crushed the uprising in Belarus with the help of Russia.
In the late 1990s, Lukashenko, a hyperactive strongman already dubbed “Europe’s last dictator”, and Russian President Boris Yeltsin agreed to create a Union State – a merger of Russia and Belarus.
Lukashenko hoped to replace the ailing and alcoholic Yeltsin, but the latter chose Putin.
Lukashenko stalled the merger, but used it for more than 20 years to milk the Kremlin for multibillion loans, trade preferences and perks for hundreds of thousands of Belarusian labour migrants toiling in Russia.
NATO and the U.S. should not stand idle. Instead, NATO should bomb Belarusian military installations to deter Belarus from aiding Russia in this invasion.
This week will go down in history as the moment when Belarus was fully absorbed into Putin’s imperial project. Its border with Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland will be one of the new dividing lines between the democratic West and Putin’s autocratic empire. Where the other lines will be drawn is still to be determined.
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