Belarus has opened its doors to Russian troops as it aims to signal its support for Putin in this war.
The Defense Ministry in Minsk announced that there are hosting a joint-force training for 9,000 Russian troops as part of a “regional grouping” of forces to protect its borders.
“The first troop trains with Russian servicemen who are part of the (regional grouping) began to arrive in Belarus,” Valeriy Revenko, head of the defense ministry’s international military cooperation department, wrote on Twitter. “The relocation will take several days.”
“The total number will be a little less than 9,000 people.”
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko also said they are opening the borders for Russian ammunition to come in, and just three days ago, a video of Russian equipment passing through a railway in Belarus was spotted.
As of writing, Russian warplanes are also taking off to reach Belarusian bases. In one satellite image (below), Russian fighter plans are getting transferred to the Belarus border.
Russia heavy bomber in Belarus border
Zelensky is the highest clown in the world
I stand with Russia 🇷🇺 pic.twitter.com/uY72TwRRg0
— ik 🇷🇺 breaking news (@marymodestus1) October 18, 2022
Lukashenko confirmed that there is a reason why they are supporting Russia in this war. He said that Belarus has received threats from Ukraine and claimed Zelensky is plotting an attack in the country. Lukashenko also called out Lithuania and Poland for siding with Ukraine because they were supposedly there to “carry out sabotage, terrorist attacks and to organise [sic] a military mutiny in the country.” Additionally, the president said they are not looking to boost Russian numbers to 15,000 and would like to support them in any way because “they [Russia] have other issues over there, as you know.” Minsk added that this move was “purely defensive.” They maintain that no attacks will happen from Belarus if they are not directly attacked.
However, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky called out to G7 last week and accused Russia of “trying to directly draw Belarus into this war.” He also asked for international observers to be placed on the Ukraine-Belarus border.
Meanwhile, Lukashenko claims they are not here to “kill anyone.”
“…we are not going to kill anyone,” he told NBC.
He added the country has been neutral since the beginning of the war by “treating Russians and Ukrainians, feeding Russians and Ukrainians.”
Not a Cause to Sound Alarm
Though Putin is showing the world that it can bring in allies after a phone call, analysts are skeptical about its actual impact on the war. Just like in one of the analyses we did here at SOFREP, the civilian attacks by Moscow hardly slowed down the push toward their northern and southern borders.
Analysts say this is the same as what Putin is doing with Belarus. They are probably moving their forces here because of the chaotic outcome of the mobilization, and with troops dying en route to the front lines or just days after being deployed, there is a lot of disdain from the locals on how military leadership is handling their forces.
We should also consider Belarus’ military capabilities. The country has a smaller population and an even smaller military. Belarusian troops “could help Moscow cut off some key transportation corridors, but likely wouldn’t significantly boost Russian President Vladimir Putin’s capabilities on the battlefield,” according to AP.
“The Belarusian army is weak and demotivated, and it is not willing to fight with Ukraine, which means that Lukashenko will try to give Putin anything but Belarusian soldiers,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “Lukashenko is letting Putin know: ‘I will help, but I won’t fight.'”
Belarus has been deeply dependent on Russian energy and loans, and in 2020, Kremlin assisted Minsk in surviving its largest mass protest in history after the turnout of its presidential election. So it is clear to see why Belarus is quick to offer its bases for “joint forces training,” especially if Russia can triple its interest loans in a day. However, analysts are seeing on the ground that almost no Belarusian is willing to participate in this war.
“Neither the Belarusian elites, nor the population are ready to participate in this incomprehensible war,” Valery Karbalevich, an independent Belarusian analyst, told the AP.
Another way to look at Belarus’ announcement is the fact that they are probably pushed on the edge. They may not have a way out. However, Belarusian military analyst Alexander Alesin said that one way for Belarus to avoid getting involved is to say they have limited troops. There’s also the factor of sheer will to fight. Belarusians do not necessarily have any grim, decades-long anger towards Ukrainians.
“Unlike the Russians, Belarusians have absolutely no hostility towards the Ukrainians and don’t understand the point of this special operation. This may lead to mass refusals to comply with orders to shoot Ukrainians,” he said.