A Russian defense official is downplaying the need for Belarusian troops to participate in Moscow's "special military operation" — the term used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to refer to the country's invasion of Ukraine.
Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Russian Duma's Defense Committee, told Russian state media RIA Novosti on Monday that "there is no need" for Belarus to join forces with Russia.
His interview comes after Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko announced that Belarus and Russia will “deploy a joint regional group of troops” that deepens the military cooperation between the two countries. Lukashenko had also claimed that Ukraine is planning to attack Belarusian territory. In turn, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said, "this information is not true."
Kartapolov explained that the deployment of joint forces was primarily in response to the actions of Poland, which he said has started deploying formations on the border with Belarus.
“The deployment is aimed at relieving the concerns of Alexander Grigoryevich (Lukashenko) and our Belarusian brothers," he said. "Of course, we cannot remain indifferent ... This is not a new grouping, it is provided for within the framework of the union state.”
He added, "a decision has simply been made at the request of the President of Belarus to deploy this group. It is too early to say to what extent. The decision will be made by the general staffs of our countries."