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Belarus Tells OSCE It's Restarting Arms Verifications After Two-Year Hiatus.

Belarusian and Russian troops take part in military exercises in February.

Belarusian and Russian troops take part in military exercises in February.

Belarusian defense officials say the country is resuming its verification work stemming from international arms-control treaties for the first time in two years.

Minsk suspended such activities early in the COVID-19 pandemic, along with some other countries.

With regional tensions high since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)'s members recently urged Minsk to readmit inspectors to check Belarusian arms stocks.

Belarusian officials last week signaled their plans to resume checks commensurate with the Vienna Document on confidence and security-building measures and the late Cold War-era Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry announced on June 20 that it had sent notification to all OSCE members of its intention to resume such verification work on a "parity basis."

Minsk has complained that NATO member Poland still has not resumed its own verification obligations.

The Belarusian Embassy in Vienna that represents Minsk at the OSCE accused Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine of politicizing the issue and stonewalling on arms-control issues.

Aleksandr Lukashenka's regime has remained largely isolated since he claimed to have won a sixth presidential term in a flawed 2020 election, sparking unprecedented protests followed by a brutal crackdown on dissent that prompted Western sanctions.

Lukashenka has since faced domestic and international backlash for allowing Russian troops to stage part of the invasion of Ukraine from Belarusian territory.

Amid high-profile visits by EU and other officials to Kyiv on June 17, Lukashanka said that there was "something suspicious" afoot and he planned to speak with ally Russian President Vladimir Putin soon.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on June 20 that preparations were under way for new "contacts" between Lukashenka and Putin, without specifying.

With reporting by Reuters and TASS

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