Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Russian nuclear-capable bombers were necessary for him to monitor the migrant crisis at the border with Poland.

A long-range Tu-22M3 bomber of the Russian Aerospace Forces flies to patrol the airspace over Belarus.
A long-range Tu-22M3 bomber of the Russian Aerospace Forces flies to patrol the airspace over Belarus. (AP)

Russia has sent two nuclear-capable strategic bombers on a training mission over Belarus for a second straight day. 

The Belarusian Defence Ministry said on Thursday two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers practiced bombing runs at the Ruzany firing range, located in Belarus about 60 kilometers (just over 37 miles) east of the border with Poland. 

As part of the joint training, Belarusian fighter jets simulated an intercept, the ministry said, adding that such Russian bomber flights will be conducted on a regular basis.

A pair of Russian Tu-22M3 long-range bombers flew a similar patrol on Wednesday, and Belarusian air defense assets practiced intercepting them.

The ministry accused Poland of an “unprecedented” military buildup on the border, saying that migration control did not warrant the concentration of 15,000 troops backed by tanks, air defense assets and other weapons.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he needed Russian nuclear-capable bombers to help him navigate the crisis at the border.

"We have to constantly monitor the situation at the border. Let them squeak, let them shout. Yes, these are bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. But we have no other option. We must see what they are doing there beyond the borders," Lukashenko said.

READ MORE: Poland, Belarus spar amid migrant surge at border

Spat over refugees, migrants

Russia has strongly supported Belarus amid a tense standoff this week as thousands of migrants and refugees, most of them from the Middle East, gathered on the Belarusian side of the border with Poland in the hope of crossing into Western Europe.

At the same time, Moscow angrily rejected Poland's claim that Russia has helped foment a situation with humanitarian as well as political dimensions. 

The European Union has accused Lukashenko of encouraging illegal border crossings as a “hybrid attack” to retaliate against EU sanctions on his government for its crackdown on internal dissent after a disputed 2020 reelection.

Belarus denies the allegations but has said it will no longer stop refugees and migrants from trying to enter the EU.

READ MORE: Belarus accuses EU of rejecting talks on migrant crisis

Source: AP