Russian-Belarusian paratroopers carry out military exercises
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The exercises were intended as a show of support for Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko amid growing tensions with European Union member states over migrants. The eastern European leader has been accused of allowing migrants to openly cross the border into EU countries Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.
Earlier this week, NATO accused the country of trying to use illegal immigration as a tool to destabilise the EU.
And on Tuesday, Lithuania declared a state of emergency along the border with Belarus after hundreds of migrants flocked to the area.
The emergency measures allow border guards to use “mental coercion” and “proportional physical violence” to prevent migrants from entering Lithuania.
The news came hours after gunfire broke out at the border.
The Russian ministry of defence announced the accidental deaths today.
A statement, carried by Russian news agencies, said: “Despite doctors’ efforts both Russian servicemen died of their wounds.”
It continued: “According to a report from the field, due to a sudden strong gust of wind near the ground, the parachutes of two contract servicemen, who had highly qualified parachute training instructors, descended. Both parachutists had their domes extinguished.
“One of the soldiers attempted to stop the uncontrolled fall of both by using his backup parachute.
The ministry added: “As a result of the incident, both servicemen were injured and were promptly taken to a local medical facility, where they were provided with all the necessary assistance.”
According to the Telegraph, the announcement came just hours after the ministry had released a slickly-produced video showing troops leaping from planes and firing machine guns into the woods.
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Since October last year, the EU has imposed restrictive measures against Belarus.
It did so because it failed to recognise the outcome of the 2020 presidential elections in Belarus, which included intimidation and violent repression of peaceful protests against the leader.
The EU believes the elections – which saw Mr Lukashenko restored to power for a sixth time – were “neither free, nor fair.”
Mr Lukashenko reacted angrily to the sanctions, and the migrant situation is seen as a retaliation for the censure.
The European dictator previously threatened to open borders for drugs and migrants earlier this year.
Speaking in July, he said: “We will not hold anyone back. We are not their final destination after all.
“They are headed to enlightened, warm, cozy, Europe.”
Authorities in Poland say that there have been 28,500 attempted border crossings since August, and that the border region was now under an “organised attack”.
Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki described the situation between his country and Belarus as “a new type of war in which people are used as human shields”.
He attributed blame for the crisis to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who he believed was “masterminding” it.
Poland has stationed 15,000 troops on the border, and has approved the construction of a wall.
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