Ukrainian forces will be “ready” to tackle an attack from northern neighbours Belarus if the country decides to join the Russian invasion, an army official said on Wednesday. Belarus is known to be a close ally of Moscow and has backed its “special operation in Ukraine.”

The statement comes nearly a day after the Belarussian defence ministry announced that it is conducting exercises to test if the country is “combat ready” or not. Minsk, however, said the new military drills were not meant to signal any threats to its neighbouring countries or other European nations.

Also Read: United States intelligence helped Ukraine kill Russian Generals: Report

Ukrainian forces have also been anticipating that Belarus will be joining Russia’s invasion, which was launched on February 24, 2022.

Andriy Demchenko, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian State Border Service, said on Wednesday, “We do not rule out that the Russian Federation could at some point use the territory of Belarus, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, against Ukraine.”

“Therefore, we are ready”, the border official said, according to reports from Reuters. He added that Ukraine has tightened its security along the Belarussian borders since the invasion from the East began.

Minsk had earlier facilitated the Russian invasion in mid-February as Moscow mobilised its forces along its Eastern border, which it shares with Ukraine. Belarus also mobilised a part of its force along the Northern borders of Ukraine.

Also Read: Russian troops practise ‘nuclear-capable’ missile strike: Report

The Belarussian territory was later used by Russian forces in mid-April to regroup and prepare for a new phase of its assault that was focused on Eastern and Southern Ukraine, according to the United States Department of Defense.

“We do begin to see them consolidating in Belarus. What we continue to believe is that they’re going to be refit, resupplied, perhaps maybe even reinforced with additional manpower, and then sent back into Ukraine to continue fighting elsewhere”, a Pentagon official said.