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Russia to ramp up military cooperation with closest ally

Russia and Belarus will continue their joint exercises, which are intended to boost the combat readiness of their militaries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday in Minsk, during a press conference with his counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko.

The Russian president revealed that Moscow and Minsk had already activated an integrated air defense and warning system, and that Russia might soon train pilots from Belarus on airplanes modified to use “special ammunition.”

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The two members of the Union State will “continue the practice of regular joint exercises” and other measures designed to increase military readiness, Putin said.

“Joint military planning is ongoing, within the framework of implementing the common military doctrine of Russia and Belarus,” Putin said. The joint regional grouping – a formation that includes soldiers from both countries, stood up in October – is carrying out exercises to further promote combat readiness, he added.

READ MORE: US-made missiles destroyed over western Russia – Moscow

In addition to deepening military ties with Russia within the Union State, Belarus will take over the rotating presidency of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in January. The Russian-led military bloc also includes Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Minsk on Monday for a series of talks with their Belarusian counterparts regarding economic, military and energy cooperation.

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