MOSCOW (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has witnessed a series of military coups with Belarus that have sparked international tensions.
On Monday, Putin held a fitness class at a training ground in Nizhny Novgorod, 450 kilometers (275 miles) east of Moscow. The action also included what the Ministry of Defense said was the first use in a combat mission with two anti-aircraft missiles equipped with machine guns and grenades.
Zapad (West) -2021 operations taking place in several locations in Russia and Belarus affect a total of about 200,000 troops, including troops from Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
Foreign ministers from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia on Monday expressed concern over their operations, saying Russia has not appeared and sees them coming in the middle of a crisis in the West and Belarus.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov solved the problem by saying he was “always involved in war games.”
The move was launched last week on the same day as Putin and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko met and announced new ways to integrate their country’s economy.
Russia’s assistance to Belarus is of concern to neighboring countries, who say Belarus is trying to calm them down by encouraging migrants from Mideast and Africa to come and bring them to their borders with European Union countries Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.
The migration crisis began after Western countries imposed sanctions on Belarus for violent protests and the attacks on independent journalists over Lukashenko’s strong opposition last year.
The protests began when Lukashenko was given the sixth term in office after the presidential election, which Westerners and critics called a fraud.
Follow all AP news on what is happening in Belarus to https://apnews.com/hub/Belarus.