Is Russia Moving Ammunition From Belarusian Storage Facilities? – According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), open-sourced data appears to confirm reports from the Ukrainian military that Russia is obtaining weapons, supplies, and other military equipment from Belarus.
In the report, the American think tank claims that the Russian Federation is “likely extracting ammunition and other materiel from Belarusian storage bases.”
Specifically, the report confirms claims from the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate that a train containing 492 tons of ammunition from the Belarusian 43rd Missile and Ammunition Storage Arsenal in Gomel arrived in the Crimean Kirovskaya Railway State recently. Ukraine also claimed that a further 13 trains containing ammunition, supplies, and weapons from five Belarusian bases will be sent to railway stations in Rostov Oblast in the near future, too.
“Geolocated footage showed at least two Belarusian trains transporting Belarusian T-72 tanks and Ural military trucks in Minsk and Tor-M2 surface-to-air missile launchers in Orsha (Vitebsk Oblast) on October 11,” the report also claims.
What It Means
The news tells us a couple of things.
First, it suggests that Belarus could be stepping in to help Russia win the war in Ukraine. While the country’s authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko has remained supportive at arms-length of Putin throughout the conflict, he appears to be coming closer to becoming the first non-Russian nation to officially join the conflict.
Lukashenko ordered Belarusian troops to deploy with the Russian forces close to the border with Ukraine, and the country’s Ministry of Defense has confirmed that “combat readiness” drills are already taking place.
Some signs point to the possibility of Belarus joining the fight, but the report from the ISW also suggests that the opposite could be true. According to the think tank, the moving of materiel from Belarusian storage facilities is “incompatible with setting conditions for a large-scale Russian or Belarusians ground attack against Ukraine from Belarus.”
The drills and the vocal support for Russia, therefore, may simply be an accompaniment to the Belarusian government’s willingness to aid Russia in its efforts to take control of Ukraine. It is also likely true that the supplies taken from Belarus will be redeployed to the Donbas and Crimea, where Russia faces its biggest losses in the coming weeks and months.
What we know for sure, though, is that the movement of these supplies from Belarus to Russia underscores a lack of confidence from the Kremlin about the Russian military’s ability to maintain its lines of defense in Luhansk, and potentially also Crimea.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.