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China, Belarus hold joint military exercises

China and Belarus announced they were holding joint military exercises just a few kilometers from the border of Poland – a member of NATO and the European Union.

Belarus’ Defense Ministry said troops from China’s People’s Liberation Army arrived in the country over the weekend. It published a series of photographs showing Chinese troops unloading equipment from a military cargo plane and said the drills would last 11 days from Monday (8) to July 19.

NATO and the European Union have long accused Belarus of weaponizing the border, pushing third-country asylum seekers towards its borders, and the joint exercises will no doubt be seen by some as yet another provocation – especially as they come on the eve of a NATO summit in Washington, DC, and on the day that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits Poland.

A CNN has contacted NATO for comment.

China’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday (7) that the exercises will include “hostage rescue operations and anti-terrorist missions.”

“The training aims to improve the training levels and coordination capabilities of the participating troops, as well as deepen practical cooperation between the armies of the two countries,” he added.

The exercises are taking place near the city of Brest on the Belarus-Poland border, which is about 210 kilometers from the Polish capital Warsaw and about 65 kilometers from Minsk’s border with Ukraine.

Belarus is Russia’s closest and most important ally as it wages its war against Ukraine. Moscow has partly used the country as a launchpad for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, after massing troops on the border with Ukraine during what it said were joint military exercises.

Chinese troops arrived in Belarus just days after that country joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Thursday.

Founded in 2001 by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to combat terrorism and promote border security, the SCO has grown in recent years as Beijing and Moscow drive a transformation of the bloc from a regional security club focused on Central Asia as a geopolitical counterweight to Western institutions led by the United States and its allies.

Source: CNN Brasil

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