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Belarus Summons Ukrainian Military Attache Over Alleged Airspace Violation

By RFE/RL's Belarus Service December 05, 2021

The Belarusian Defense Ministry has summoned Ukraine's military attaché to protest what the ministry said were "increasing violations" of Belarus's airspace by Ukrainian aircraft.

The ministry on December 5 said the attaché was summoned because of what it said was a violation the day before of the country's airspace by a Ukrainian military helicopter that flew up to a kilometer into Belarusian territory.

Belarus handed a note of protest to the attaché after he was summoned to the ministry's Department of International Military Cooperation, the ministry said in a statement.

"The military attaché was informed that the Ukrainian side is avoiding a dialogue to resolve controversial issues, both in terms of international military cooperation and arms control, which is very worrying," the ministry said.

A spokesperson for Ukraine's border-guard service denied the accusation, according to Reuters. The Ukrainian Army said on December 5 that it had nothing to add to that comment.

Belarus is engaged in a bitter diplomatic standoff with the West over Alyaksandr Lukashenka's crackdown on dissent since a disputed election in 2020 and what the European Union has called his "weaponization" of Middle Eastern migrants to create a crisis on Belarus's border with EU members Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

The European Union, United States, and other Western powers this week imposed a fifth round of sanctions on Lukashenka and his elites over alleged rights and other abuses.

Lukashenka has increasingly relied on the diplomatic, economic, and military support of Moscow, which has recently staged joint military drills and last month launched regular air patrols over Belarus's western border.

Meanwhile, many of the thousands of Iraqis and other migrants from the Middle East hoping to travel to the West remain camped out in Belarus near the Polish border.

Tensions have also increased over concerns that Russia is massing tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine's borders in what NATO and Ukraine have suggested is part of preparations for a possible invasion of Ukraine. Russia denies any such plan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden are due to hold a video call on December 7 in which they will discuss wider tensions in the region.

With reporting by Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/belarus-ukraine -border-protest/31594791.html

Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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