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Neighbors wary as Russia, Belarus kick off major joint military drill

Added 09-09-21 12:35:02pm EST - “Russian military officials said Thursday they have formally begun a major military exercise with neighboring Belarus, despite the unease expressed by a number of countries in the region.” - Washingtontimes.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Washingtontimes.com: “Neighbors wary as Russia, Belarus kick off major joint military drill”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Russian military officials said Thursday they have formally begun a major military exercise with neighboring Belarus, despite the unease expressed by a number of countries in the region.

The weeklong Zapad-2021 exercises come as authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has moved closer to Moscow in the face of mounting U.S. and Western European criticism of his rule.

Mr. Lukashenko, in power in the former Soviet republic since 1994, has overseen a harsh crackdown on dissenters at home and abroad following unprecedented public protests that broke out following a widely discredited presidential election in August 2020.

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The Zapad exercises are held every two years, and Russian officials at an opening ceremony Thursday in Nizhny Novgorod rejected criticisms that staging them now was a provocation.

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