Associated Press

A Belarusian soldier of the Interior Ministry special unit negotiates an obstacle course during an examination Wednesday near the village of Volovshchina, some 15 miles west of Minsk. Russia's defense minister said earlier this week that NATO's eastward expansion and U.S. missile shield plans have encouraged Russia and Belarus to boost military-political cooperation. American plans to deploy missile elements in Poland and the Czech Republic, announced at the start of this year, sparked an ongoing dispute with Moscow and have also angered Belarus, which borders on Poland.