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“Russia wants to stretch out Ukrainian forces, but no changes on the border so far.” Military expert on Belarus-Russia task force

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to deploy a joint regional military task force. Lukashenko has already issued a command to station Russian troops on Belarusian territory.

Belarus announced the formation of the group as early as 6 October – before the explosion on the Crimean bridge. Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin explained that the task force was needed «in case the situation in the western direction escalates.”

Reports claim that the joint group would include the Belarusian army, the Russian tank army, and some units of Russia’s Airborne Troops and Air Force.

“It is strategically advantageous for Russia to deploy forces on the Belarusian border, even without assuming a direct invasion, as Ukraine will keep a certain number of forces in that direction. This stretches the Ukrainian military and requires additional forces and means to monitor the border area of a thousand kilometers,” Military expert Serhiy Grabsky told The Insider.

“The statements about this group’s creation aren’t surprising given who we’re dealing with. The fact that Lukashenko and Putin were planning to set it up is evidenced by the many exercises that have been conducted. They’ve worked out a command structure beforehand,” he said.

According to Grabsky, in order to deploy the task force immediately, “they have to take certain actions and concentrate a number of troops [in a given area], and we don't see any such concentration.”

“Now we see six battalion tactical groups and a Belarusian special forces unit in constant readiness on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border,” the expert said.

On the morning of October 10, Russia launched 75 missiles at Ukraine, 41 of which were shot down by anti-missile defenses, reported Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhniy. The attack is ongoing, as the city of Kryvyi Rih remained under fire at 10 am Kyiv time.

Kyiv (including the city center), Lviv, Ternopil, Zhytomyr, Khmelnytskyi, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Sumy, Rivne, Ternopil, Poltava, and Kirovohrad regions have all been shelled. Lviv’s thermal power plant has been damaged, the city currently has no electricity or hot water, and backup power generators have been launched.

The Ukrainian Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko said that the city's Philharmonic building, the Khanenko Museum, and the Shevchenko Museum were all damaged by rocket fire. Missiles have hit Kyiv's Taras Shevchenko National University, as well as the eponymous park nearby.

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