Border Buildup: Is Belarus Getting Ready for War With Ukraine?

October 11, 2022 Topic: Belarus Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: BelarusRussia-Ukraine WarAlexander LukashenkoUkraineNATO

Border Buildup: Is Belarus Getting Ready for War With Ukraine?

Belarus and Russia have begun deploying a joint military group in response to what Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko described as an imminent threat from NATO and Ukraine.

 

Belarus and Russia have begun deploying a joint military group in response to what Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko described as an imminent threat from NATO and Ukraine.

Ukraine “has not just discussed today, but planned to strike the territory of Belarus,” Lukashenko claimed in a meeting with Belarusian security officials. Lukashenko said Ukraine’s alleged plans to attack Belarus are not sound from a military viewpoint, but that Kyiv is being pressured into taking action against Minsk by its Western backers. “Nevertheless, the process has begun. They are being pushed by their patrons towards unleashing a war against Belarus in order to drag us into it and to deal with Russia and Belarus simultaneously.” The Belarusian leader did not provide any evidence in support of his assertions.

 

Lukashenko dismissed allegations that Minsk is laying the groundwork to attack Ukraine, characterizing them as a pretext for Western aggression against Belarus. “[T]he West keeps arguing that the Belarusian army will directly engage [in Russia’s] special military operation in Ukraine. Having been influenced by such bogus stories, the military and political leader of the North Atlantic Alliance and a number of European countries are now openly considering options to carry out aggression against our country, up to conducting a nuclear strike," he claimed, according to Russian state news outlet TASS.

The Belarusian president said he approved the deployment of a joint regional Russian-Belarusian grouping as a “defensive” measure. "The regional group of forces deals solely with defensive tasks. All the measures being implemented now are aimed at adequately responding to developments close to our borders," added Belarusian defense minister Viktor Khrenin in a statement. Belarusian officials did not clarify exactly where the joint group will be deployed and for how long.

Lukashenko’s stark announcements drew condemnation from exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. “Lukashenka & Putin are dragging Belarus into a full-scale war against Ukraine,” she wrote in a tweet. “Let Lukashenka know that he will face the strongest sanctions & complete political isolation. Both dictators are war criminals & must appear before the tribunal.”

Belarus, one of Moscow’s closest military allies, provided passage and logistical support to Russian troops crossing into Ukraine from Belarusian territory in the opening stages of the Russo-Ukrainian War. The Institute for the Study of War assessed earlier this week that the Russian-Belarusian grouping is unlikely to attack Ukraine, citing its low military readiness and the untenable domestic costs for Lukashenko of directly involving his country in the conflict.

Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.

Image: Reuters.