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Poles watch warily as China joins Belarus military drills

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Poland on Wednesday said it was paying close attention to military drills in neighbouring Belarus involving Chinese troops.

The “Falcon Assault” drills started on Monday and are set to run until mid-July, with China’s defense ministry saying it hoped to deepen cooperation with Minsk.

Both countries are allies of Russia, which used Belarus as a launchpad for its invasion of Ukraine, while Poland is a NATO member and supporter of Kyiv.

NATO leaders are in Washington for a summit and have pledged fresh backing for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

“The defense ministry is well aware of the risk of the operations in question being used for disinformation and propaganda purposes,” Poland’s defense ministry told AFP on Wednesday.

“The Polish armed forces remain constantly ready to ensure the country’s security. We are ready to face any eventuality.”

China has previously held joint drills with Belarus, though these are the first since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“Commanders from both sides expressed hope that through these exercises, it will be possible to learn from each other, improve combat techniques and deepen cooperation and communication between the two armies,” China’s defense ministry said without specifying how many troops were taking part.

Belarus has called it an “anti-terrorist” training exercise.

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