Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, made a rare visit to Belarus yesterday to strengthen his bond with the country’s president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, who has been under growing pressure from Moscow to provide more support for the war in Ukraine. The visit came as Russia’s nighttime bombardment campaign against Ukraine’s infrastructure continued. Appearing together after their talks, both leaders spoke about the need to withstand Western economic pressure. Putin said that the two had also discussed a “unified defense space,” without describing what that would entail, and that they would continue joint military exercises. Defense ministers from Russia and Belarus signed an agreement this month to strengthen their ties. The trip is likely to heighten concerns in Ukraine about the possibility of a fresh ground offensive that could use Belarus as a launching pad, and particularly one aimed at trying to seize the capital, Kyiv, which is only about 55 miles from the Belarusian border, or at disrupting the flow of Western arms and aid into Ukraine from Poland. The Ukrainian military is now using drones to guide Russian soldiers who want to surrender.
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