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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko (R) enter the hall during the plenary session of the Supreme Council of Russia and Belarus, at the Konstantin Palace on January 29, 2024, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. 

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Belarus began military drills on Tuesday in regions along its borders with Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland, the Russian ally’s defense ministry said.

The exercises will be held over three days in the Gomel and Grodno regions, and are intended to prepare officers and territorial defense personnel for potential defense of their respective regions, along with practicing protocols in the event martial law is enacted in the country, the defense ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.

Poland and Lithuania are members of both the European Union and NATO.

Russia and Ukraine meanwhile continued to exchange drone strikes in recent days, with Russia on Monday night targeting energy facilities in raids on the Dnipropetrovsk and Kirovograd regions, Ukraine’s Operational Command “South” said on Facebook.

The military unit said air defense forces destroyed three drones over Dnipropetrovsk while the rest were intercepted by other units, but an infrastructure target was struck in Kirovograd with no casualties.

The head of Ukraine’s national grid company said on Monday that while Russian drone attacks have significantly damaged the Ukrainian power system, a total collapse is unlikely.

Russian forces have been attacking thermal and hydropower stations on a regular basis since March 22, causing blackouts in many regions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held talks on Monday with military and government officials over Kyiv’s drone production plans and a project to build an “integrated electronic warfare control system” to protect Ukrainian troops from Russian drone attacks.

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