Air forces of Russia and Belarus have commenced a series of bilateral air combat exercises near the Ukrainian border, Reuters reported

The exercise began on 16 January and is expected to continue until 1 February.

The drills are being conducted to increase interoperability between the forces of the two countries while enhancing their joint performance and capabilities to undertake combat missions.

Citing a post shared by the Belarusian Ministry of Defence on Telegram, the report claimed that the drills undertaken during this bilateral activity will be ‘defensive’ in nature.

Belarusian Security Council first deputy state secretary Pavel Muraveyko said: “The exercise is purely defensive in nature. It will be a set of measures to prepare our and Russian aviation to carry out the relevant combat missions.”

Muraveyko revealed that the exercises will primarily involve aerial reconnaissance training, drills to deter air strikes, as well as training on providing air cover for crucial military equipment and communications.

According to a report by Russian News Agency TASS, the Belarusian MoD said that the latest exercises will further bolster the operational compatibility of Russian and Belarusian air forces to jointly undertake a wide range of tactical missions.

The Belarusian MoD statement added: “The drills are set to practise a broad range of objectives, in particular, conducting air reconnaissance, carrying out joint aerial patrols along the state border, providing air support for combat teams, landing a tactical assault force, delivering cargo and evacuating casualties.”

The Belarusian MoD has also informed that this exercise is being held from ‘all the airfields and training ranges’ of the Belarusian Army’s air and air defence forces.

Last year, Belarus participated in the Russian military’s multinational strategic command following exercise Vostok 2022.