Russia’s War in Ukraine: Live Updates

The number of Russian soldiers forming the new joint Belarusian-Russian force will be less than 9,000, Valery Revenko, head of the Belarusian Department for International Military Cooperation, said in a statement on Sunday.

“Their relocation will take several days. The total number will be just under 9,000 people,” Revenko said on Twitter.

Revenko said more details will be provided during a briefing for foreign military attachés on Monday.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that the Russian aviation component of the regional grouping of troops had already started arriving in Belarus. The first group of Russian soldiers to form the joint force with Belarusian troops arrived in Belarus on Saturday, the Minsk Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“Due to the worsening of the western borders of the Union State, we have agreed to deploy a regional grouping of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus,” President Alexander Lukashenko said last week. according to the official Belta news agency.

A bit of context: The joint force has raised fears of deeper military cooperation between close allies and that Belarusian troops could officially join the invasion of Russia.

The impact of such an intervention in terms of pure labor would be limited; Belarus has about 45,000 active-duty troops, which would not significantly bolster Russian reserves. But that would threaten another assault on Ukraine’s northern flank below the Belarusian border.

CNN’s Tim Lister and Rob Picheta contributed to this report.

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