Is Belarus Preparing to Attack Ukraine? – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Wednesday that the border between Belarus and Ukraine must be monitored, suggesting that the Ukrainian government could be expecting an assault from Belarus by Russian or Belarusian soldiers.
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Zelenskyy said that Ukraine must “be ready” at the border, though confirmed Kyiv has so far only seen “powerful statements” coming from the Russian ally.
Zelenskyy’s warning came following a visit to the western city of Lviv, where he appeared alongside Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Following the meetings, the Ukrainian president revealed that he had discussed “state border protection, the operational situation on the border with the Republic of Belarus, and counter-subversive measures in these territories.”
“We understand that apart from powerful statements, we do not see anything powerful there, but nevertheless we must be ready both at the border and in the regions,” Zelenskyy also said.
Ukraine Staging Wargames
Speaking to Reuters, Colonel Roman Voloschuk of the 104th Territorial Defense Brigade revealed how the Ukrainian military has performed military drills in three secret locations in the northwestern regions of Ukraine recently.
Voloschuk described how the Ukrainian military is preparing for a possible assault from Belarus.
“They can try, but we’re ready for them. We’ve prepared, every turn and every junction has been dug up. There will be colossal resistance from every building,” he told the outlet.
Soldiers from Voloschuk’s territorial defense also told the outlet that they, along with hundreds of other territorial defense units, are “waiting” for the Russians, or Belarusian soldiers should they be deployed to fight alongside them.
Is Belarus Planning An Attack?
Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly voiced his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, he has also repeatedly stressed the importance of bringing the war to an end as soon as possible.
The two positions are not mutually exclusive, of course, given that the Russian president has done exactly the same over the last year.
However, recent admissions from the Belarusian Ministry of Defense that Russian military equipment has arrived in the country for the purpose of joint military exercises and training have spooked Ukraine. And that could be intentional.
Belarus has so far refrained from deploying troops or joining the conflict directly, but ongoing training exercises combined with a statement on Monday from Belarus confirming that Russian-Belarusian air defense forces had been reinforced have unsurprisingly raised concerns in Kyiv.
Chances are, Belarus is talking big.
Lukashenko knows his troops may not be entirely reliable should they be deployed to Ukraine, but time will only tell if Moscow becomes desperate enough to leverage its influence over Belarus and request direct support.
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.