Statements by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko this week reignited fears that his army could join Russian forces in Moscow’s war against Ukraine, but the dictator remains reluctant to commit his forces to the effort despite pressure from Russia. Moscow.
Russia has already used its longtime ally Belarus to send troops and missiles into Ukraine. If Belarus’s small and inexperienced military is involved, the extra troops may help Moscow cut off some key transport routes, but will not significantly increase Russian President Vladimir Putin’s capabilities on the battlefield, analysts say.
“The Belarusian army is weak and demotivated and doesn’t want to fight Ukraine, which means Lukashenko will try to give Putin nothing but Belarusian soldiers.”Ukrainian military analyst Ole Zhdanov told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “Lukashenko Informs Putin: ‘I’ll help, but not fight’”.
Lukashenko announced on Monday that he and Putin had agreed to create a joint “regional troop group” and that several thousand Russian soldiers would be stationed in Belarus. Lukashenko did not provide details on where the troops would be stationed, and Russia’s intentions were not immediately clear, although Moscow has been scrambling to replace troops lost on the battlefield.
The Belarusian leader also said that kyiv is Conspiracy To attack Belarus, he warned Ukraine not to attack “even one meter of our territory with dirty hands”. Its Defense Minister, Viktor Grenin, warned Ukraine not to provoke Belarus: “We don’t want to fight” And yet, a day later, he insisted that the joint force was for self-defense.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised the leaders of the seven industrial powers on Tuesday. Kyiv does not plan military operations against Belarus. Moscow is “trying to drag Belarus directly into this war,” he said.
Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council, told Ukrainian television on Tuesday. Belarus is “hostage to Russia”.
Fears of Russian pressure on Belarus are not unfounded. An authoritarian leader, Lukashenko has ruled Belarus with an iron fist for 28 years, relying on political and economic support from Russia. Moscow has paid billions of dollars to prop up Lukashenko’s Soviet-style state-controlled economy with cheap energy and loans. In 2020, the Kremlin helped him survive the largest mass protests in the country’s history, following a presidential election that the opposition and the West denounced as rigged.
Alexander publicly supported Russia’s attack on Ukraine, drawing international criticism and sanctions against Minsk. However, he has repeatedly rejected speculation that Belarus would send its own soldiers to fight alongside Russia.
“Neither the Belarusian elites nor the people are ready to participate in this incomprehensible war”Valery Karbalevich, an independent Belarusian analyst, told the AP. Karbalevich said Lukashenko Trying to negotiateRussia offered to build a joint force with nuclear weapons on its border, while pointing to the weakness of its own military.
Part of Belarus’ 1,000-kilometer (621-mi) border with northwestern Ukraine lies about 90 kilometers (56 mi) north of Ukraine’s capital, Kyu. Ukrainian military analyst Zhdanov said Belarusian troops could move west and attack the cities of Lviv and Lutsk, major transit hubs for Western military supplies.
“It is necessary to cut off the Russian transport corridor, because through Lviv Western weapons reach the east and south, where the Ukrainian army is conducting a successful counterattack, which can only be done from Belarus,” Zhdanov said.
However, the Army Lukashenko is relatively Little (Only 45,000 soldiers including conscripts) and are often inexperienced. The Belarusian army conducts regular exercises, but has not engaged in combat since World War II.
In the best case, Minsk could deploy 20,000 soldiers, professional contract soldiers, according to Zhdanov.
Alexander Alesin, a Belarusian military analyst, said Lukashenko could avoid getting involved, saying he needed his limited troops to protect Belarus’ borders from NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
The Belarusian leader said earlier this year Kremlin campaign in Ukraine “drags on” He also stressed the need for an early end to the war and suggested that peace talks could be mediated. Kabralevich said that Lukashenko understood that Russia was losing the war and that he was “trying to crawl out of Russia as much as possible.”
Alexander also faces public frustration at home as Belarusians feel the effects of Western sanctions and rising inflation, which have already doubled from last year.
“After the mass protests of 2020, when hundreds of thousands of people demanded the resignation of Belarus’s leader, Lukashenko is afraid to arm Belarusians. This could lead to another civil eruption.”Karbalevich said.
And, Alesin said, the Belarusians were not mentally prepared to fight the Ukrainians.
“Unlike Russians, Belarusians are not completely hostile towards Ukrainians and do not understand the goal of this special operation. This may lead to people’s refusal to carry out the order to shoot Ukrainians,” he said.
(With information from AP)
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