Here’s What It Would Take for Belarus to Join the Russian Invasion Of Ukraine – After reports that Ukrainian military officials are preparing at the border between Ukraine and Belarus, a Russian foreign ministry official this week suggested that Belarus could become directly involved in the conflict if Kyiv were to “invade” Russia or Belarus.
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During an interview with the state-owned TASS news agency on Friday, Moscow official Aleksey Polishchuk described how joint training efforts in Belarus between Russian and Belarusian soldiers are going ahead as part of a plan to deter Ukraine from “escalating” the conflict.
Polishchuk refused to rule out the possibility of Belarusian soldiers joining the war effort, however.
“From a legal point of view, the use of military force by the Kyiv regime or the invasion of the territory of Belarus or Russia by the armed forces of Ukraine are sufficient grounds for a collective response,” Polishchuk said.
Weather Conditions Need To Change
Reuters reported this week how weather conditions, along with waterlogged fields and burst riverbanks, could play a part in preventing a new assault from the west.
The report describes how deep, thick mud lines the northwestern Ukrainian border with Belarus, making the prospects of a Russian assault from over the border unlikely for the time being.
Speaking to Reuters, a deputy commander of one of the hundreds of military brigades formed by local people explained how the mild winter has given Ukraine an advantage. Milder-than-normal temperatures mean that burst riverbanks have not caused the ground to freeze over.
“On your own land, everything will help you to defend it – the landscape, lots of rivers, which have burst their banks this year,” the deputy commander said.
Even the local beaver population is said to be playing a part in making the terrain difficult for soldiers to pass.
A spokesperson for a military brigade on the border, Serhiy Khominskyi said that the war means there is nobody around to break up dams being created by the beavers, causing the river water to spill over the banks.
“When they build their dams normally people destroy them, but they didn’t this year because of the war, so now there is water everywhere,” Khominskyi said.
If Belarus is planning an assault, or if Russian forces intend to use Belarus as a springboard for a new offensive, it is unlikely to happen until the ground either freezes solid or the weather gets warmer and river banks are no longer overflowing. And there’s no telling how long that could take.
Will Belarus Really Do It?
While Russia initially used Belarus to deploy soldiers to Ukraine in early 2022 under the guise of military drills, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has not since ordered his troops to fight alongside the Russians and has even at times expressed his hope that the war will come to an end sooner rather than later. Lukashenko’s reluctance could ultimately be a double bluff – telling the international community that he doesn’t wish to see the conflict escalate while at the same time knowing that his troops may be ineffective in Ukraine, or that they may simply defect and join the Ukrainians if they are allowed to leave the country.
The same could be said about Russia’s warnings, too. Ukraine is prepared for a possible invasion from the West, but after almost a year of conflict, Belarus has so far refrained from becoming directly involved in the war. Nobody knows what the future holds, however – and with Russian ammunition shortages getting no better, Russian forces do need all the help they can get.
Whether Belarus can offer much more than somewhat reliable troops, though, remains to be seen. Russa is already preparing to call up an additional 500,000 soldiers from within its own borders, on top of the 300,000 who were called up to serve late last year. With this in mind, Belarus’ troops may only be more useful to Russia than domestically-recruited soldiers in the sense that they have spent more time training.
Belarus Invasion? Ukraine Thinks It Won’t Happen
Serhiy Popko, the head of the Kyiv military administration, said on Friday that ongoing military exercises and training in Belarus are unlikely to result in the country joining the war.
“I would not associate these exercises of the air force, which will be on the territory of Belarus, with massive missile strikes,” Popko said.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He 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.