West has amassed nearly 30,000 troops near Belarus’ borders: Lukashenko

Joint military exercises between Belarus and Russia to be held in February, says president.

West has amassed nearly 30,000 troops near Belarus’ borders: Lukashenko

Western nations have stationed nearly 30,000 troops, equipment and weapons on Belarus’ western borders, President Alexander Lukashenko said Monday. 

Speaking at a meeting with military officials at Minsk’s Independence Palace on plans for joint military exercises between Belarus and Russia, Lukashenko said Poland applied to NATO in order to place military equipment in the region.

"Why is this being done? There may be a consequence. They're getting ready for something serious, at least (preparing for) something long-lasting," he said.

Lukashenko also drew attention to the presence of US troops in countries to the west of Belarus.

"Poland and the Baltic states alternately host between 8,000 and 10,000 US troops. What will the Americans do here? Why are we and Russia being reproached for holding maneuvers, drills while they have come here from far away? There are some hot-heads calling for war. We hear these statements,” he added. 

Pointing out that the situation on the southern borders of Belarus is also worrying, Lukashenko said there has been an increase in military units on the Ukrainian side.

"Ukraine continues to expand its forces by recruiting units of the National Guard from radical nationalists near our borders," he said.

Lukashenko underlined that Ukraine carried out a special operation near the border with Belarus and that nearly 10,000 soldiers were deployed to the border region. 

He recalled that last December, he agreed with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to hold military exercises on the western and southern borders of Belarus.

“Today we see that we need to hold serious exercises in these western and southern regions, on the 'Belarusian balcony,'” he said.

Emphasizing that the exercises should be carried out to create a specific plan when faced with Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine, Lukashenko noted that they will begin the joint exercises in his country in February.