Belarus announces joint air defense training with Russia amid a series of attacks in southern Ukraine

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Belarus announced on Tuesday that it would hold joint air defense exercises with Russia this week, while the war in Ukraine turns to the sky.

The Ministry of Defense of Belarus said in a Telegram post that its air defense forces would participate in a joint staff training with “officials from the Air Force and the Air Force in the Western Military District of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation” from April 26-29.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pose for a photo during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, March 11, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pose for a photo during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, March 11, 2022.
((Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP))

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The training will reportedly cover areas of cooperation within defense strategy, capacity and planning.

Russia has been heavily dependent on missile attacks in its more than two-month-long war in Ukraine, where defense authorities have assessed over 1,670 attacks since the war began on 24 February.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly asked NATO to enforce a no-fly zone or send warplanes to counter the barrage of Russian missiles.

But defense officials have previously claimed that most of Russia’s missiles were fired from surface-to-air platforms – rendering a no-fly zone ineffective.

Russia appears to be changing pace, a senior defense official told reporters last week, noting that there have been several air-to-surface attacks as the country intensifies its campaign in eastern and southern Ukraine.

In this photo provided by the press service of the Russian Ministry of Defense on Monday, February 14, 2022. A MiG-31 fighter jet from the Russian Air Force takes off at an air base during military exercises in the Tver region, Russia.

In this photo provided by the press service of the Russian Ministry of Defense on Monday, February 14, 2022. A MiG-31 fighter jet from the Russian Air Force takes off at an air base during military exercises in the Tver region, Russia.
(Russian Ministry of Defense press service via AP)

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“In general, we continue to see a sense of fatigue among Russian pilots,” the official said, noting that they often shoot without crossing any borders and do not stay in Ukrainian airspace for long. “But they use, again as part of these shaping operations, they use airstrikes from fixed-wing bombers to support what they are trying to get done on the ground.”

The United States and NATO continue to refuse to send direct flights to Ukraine, but have instead agreed to send parts to strengthen Kiev’s air defense.

The senior official said more than 20 additional aircraft have been available for Ukraine’s defense with the help of NATO allies over the past three weeks.

And additional air defenses have been deployed through the United States’ latest security package.

  Two Polish Air Force Russians caused Mig 29s to fly over and under two Polish Air Force US manufactured F-16 fighter jets during the air show in Radom, Poland, on August 27, 2011.

Two Polish Air Force Russians caused Mig 29s to fly over and under two Polish Air Force US manufactured F-16 fighter jets during the air show in Radom, Poland, on August 27, 2011.
(AP Photo / Alik Keplicz, File)

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NATO nations and other allies met in Germany on Tuesday to discuss what more can be done to help Ukraine, as officials warn that Russia’s second offensive is likely to be even more brutal than the first.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has claimed that Russia has lost 184 planes since the invasion began, but these figures have not been confirmed.

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