Russia's key ally Belarus said Thursday, Dec. 29, its air defense shot down a missile launched from Ukrainian territory, in the first such incident reported by Minsk since the start of Moscow's Ukraine offensive.

 

The Belarus defense ministry said a missile was shot down around 10:00 am local time (0700 GMT), with its debris discovered in a village in the western Brest region that borders Ukraine and Poland.

 

"It was preliminarily established that the fragments belonged to an S-300 anti-aircraft guided missile launched from the territory of Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

 

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko "was immediately informed" of the incident, a Telegram channel close to the presidency said earlier.

 

There was no information yet about possible injuries or casualties.

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In November, a missile landed in a village in NATO member Poland and killed two people, also sparking concern the US-led alliance would be drawn into the conflict in Ukraine.

 

Russia denies having fired the missile, while Warsaw said it was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile launched to intercept Russian attacks.

 

Russia has used Belarus as a launching pad for its Ukraine offensive.

 

In October, Belarus said it was establishing a joint regional force with Moscow, with several thousand Russian servicemen arriving in the ex-Soviet country.

 

The move has fuelled concern Minsk could also send troops to Ukraine.

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