Soldiers from Russia and Belarus are training to fight as a unified force, the latter’s President, Alexander Lukashenko, has said amid heightened tensions with the West over the Ukraine conflict. He made his comments during Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s visit to Minsk on Saturday.

“Today we are preparing like a single force, a single army,” Lukashenko said, adding that instructors from both countries were training each other’s troops. “Everyone knows this. We did not hide this fact. Well, it is impossible to hide this in a modern world.”

Lukashenko insisted that both Minsk and Moscow “did not want and do not want war,” but are working together to be able to “repel any aggression.”

Defense Minister Shoigu, meanwhile, called Belarus a “trustworthy partner” for Russia during a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrenin. Shoigu praised Belarus for “the resolve to resist the hostile course of the US and its allies,” adding that the units from both countries have been improving military interoperability.