The Russian and Belarusian armed forces started on Thursday an active phase of a joint military drill, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The task of the drill Allied Determination-2022 that takes place in Belarus is to master the skills of repelling external aggression, countering terrorism, and defending the interests of the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the ministry said.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry in a separate statement said the exercises take place at the time of rising tensions in Europe, including at the western and southern borders of Belarus.

The ministry claimed that about 30,000 NATO troops, as well as aviation and heavy weapons, are concentrated on the Belarusian border.

The Belarusian authorities are particularly concerned about the situation developing in Ukraine, where the armed forces are holding a military drill with the use of man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missile Javelin systems and Bayraktar unmanned aerial vehicles simultaneously with the Russian-Belarusian exercise.

The Russian-Belarusian exercises are held in two phases. The first lasted until Feb. 9 and suggested troops redeployment to Belarus and the formation of a joint military group.

The second phase – a joint exercise Allied Determination 2022 – will last until Feb. 20. It will involve work on issues of suppressing and repelling external aggression, protecting the interests of the Union State, and countering terrorism.

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