The Russian Air Force flew two Tu-160 strategic bombers over the airspace of Belarus for the second day in a row on November 11, with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko saying he needed the bombers to manage the migrant crisis on the border with Poland.
The Russian bombers from the 6950th Guards Air Base were accompanied by Belarusian Su-30SM fighters during the four-hour flight on Thursday. The exercise also included bombing practice at the Ruzhansky firing range in Belarus.
While the Russian defense ministry noted that the flight was a routine maneuver and not directed at any third country, the move was widely interpreted as a sign of Russian support for Belarus in the crisis row.
On the same day, Russia’s deputy UN envoy Russia berated his European colleagues over a UN statement on the situation, saying they have “masochist inclinations.”
Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the United States and Britain issued a statement condemning the “orchestrated instrumentalisation of human beings whose lives and wellbeing have been put in danger for political purposes by Belarus, with the objective of destabilizing neighboring countries and the European Union’s external border and diverting attention away from its own increasing human rights violations.”
Speaking to reporters following the UN Security Council meeting, Russia’s deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy denied Russia was helping move the migrants to the Polish border.
Commenting on the flights over Belarus, he said the maneuvers were in response to a “massive build up of Polish forces on the border.”