UPDATE 1-Kremlin says report that Ukraine is reinforcing Belarus border is a worry

Reuters · 07/01 10:06
UPDATE 1-Kremlin says report that Ukraine is reinforcing Belarus border is a worry

Adds Ukrainian comment, Kremlin quote in paragraphs 3.5

- The Kremlin said on Monday that a Belarusian military report that Ukraine had been moving more troops, weapons and military equipment into its Zhytomyr region, which borders Belarus, was a cause for concern.

The Belarusian Defence Ministry alleged that Ukraine was building up its forces on Saturday.

A spokesman for Ukraine's border guard service said on Monday that such statements were part of a Russian-supported "information operation" and that Kyiv kept forces the border with Belarus to prevent any provocations.

When asked about the Belarusian build-up claim, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reminded reporters on Monday that Belarus was part of a union state with Russia and that dialogue between Moscow and Minsk, including between their intelligence agencies, was close.

"And our ministries of defence are in constant contact with each other. Of course, this is a cause for concern, only for Minsk, but also for Moscow, because we are indeed allies and partners."

Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko would both attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which is taking place in Kazakhstan on July 3-4 and would discuss the matter if they deemed it .

Belarus, a close Russian ally that has provided support for what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine, said last week that it was reinforcing its border with Ukraine after a security incident and had deployed a division of multiple launch rocket systems to test their combat readiness.

The Belarusian border guard service said its forces had brought down a quadrocopter on Wednesday after it had illegally crossed the border from Ukraine to collect information about Belarusian border infrastructure.

Earlier last week, the border service said materials for a homemade bomb had been found concealed in the same area and that it was aware that a unit of pro-Ukrainian Russian fighters was present in a Ukrainian region bordering Belarus.


(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov
Writing by Andrew Osborn
Editing by Mark Trevelyan)