President Alexander Lukashenko announced Belarus and Russia will “deploy a joint regional group of troops,” according to Belarusian state media.
"Due to the aggravation on the western borders of the Union State, we agreed to deploy a regional grouping of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus,” Lukashenko said Monday, according to state news agency Belta.
Lukashenko's declaration deepens the military cooperation between the two countries -- and follows claims made by Belarus that Ukraine is planning to attack its territory.
When Moscow its invasion of Ukraine in late February, it followed a substantial deployment of Russian forces and aviation in Belarus.
However, Lukashenko has not committed Belarus troops to Russia's "special military operation."
Last week, he said Belarus "has been caught up in the Russia-Ukraine war but that it is not an active military party to the conflict."
“As for our participation in a special military operation in Ukraine, we are participating. We do not hide it. But we are not killing anyone. We are not sending our military anywhere. We do not violate our obligations,” Lukashenko said during a military meeting.
He added that Belarus was “participating” in the war by preventing its spread into Belarus and by preventing “a strike on Belarus under the guise of a special military operation from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.”
He also said Belarus was not planning to announce any mobilization but that it intends to learn from Russia’s experience.
“If the threat level reaches the current level, as it is now, we start deploying the Union State grouping," he said on Monday.
Lukashenko is quoted as saying that the grouping has now started, and he believes it has been underway for two days.
However, it is unclear what comprises the grouping and where it is deployed.