Belarus is actively participating in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Eastern European country has allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory for attacks on Kyiv, and according to latest reports Belarusian troops have reportedly entered Ukraine and joined Russian military operations there.
The Kremlin has undoubtedly pressured Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to deploy troops in the conflict. Given the Russian Army is suffering significant losses on the ground, deployment of additional troops, be it from Russia or Belarus, was a matter of time. The problem for the Russian military leadership is there is no guarantee Belarusian troops will fight as fiercely as the Russians. According to some reports, dozens of Belarusian soldiers have already joined the Ukrainian Army, and volunteers from Belarus are reportedly also helping the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Thus, it is entirely possible that some Belarusian units will simply surrender to the Ukrainians. Quite aware that Belarusian society strongly opposes any participation of the former Soviet republic in the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine, Lukashenko is still trying to portray Belarus as a neutral country, and himself as a mediator in this conflict.
The very fact that the first round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials took place in Belarus on February 28 suggests that Kyiv had to turn a blind eye to Lukashenko’s activities. It is worth noting, however, that Russia agreed to hold talks, even though Russian President Vladimir Putin previously called Ukrainian officials terrorists, drug-addicts and Nazis. But, that does not necessarily mean that a potential Minks-3 agreement will be signed any time soon. The two sides have agreed to continue holding talks, and the next round of negotiations will be held at the Polish-Belarusian border.
“The process that had begun would have been finished a long time ago had it been not for the interference of external players. And possibly no further actions would have been required”, said Belarusian Foreign Minster Vladimir Makei.
The Kremlin sees Ukraine as an instrument the United States is using against Russia. Still, Moscow agreed to hold talks with Ukrainian officials, although Putin demands their capitulation. It remains unclear why Russia refused to hold direct talks with Ukraine before the war, and why Putin and the US President Joe Biden have not spoken since the Kremlin launched invasion of the Eastern European country.
To this day, US airspace remains open to Russian aircraft and vice versa, while all European Union countries have banned Russian air companies from using their airspace. The US Embassy in Moscow has urged American citizens to leave Russia immediately, and has shuttered its embassy in Minsk. Does that mean that the war will soon spill over to The Union State?
Russia is expected to continue using Belarusian territory for attacks on Ukraine. Recently, Lukashenko confirmed the Russian Army fired Iskander missiles from Belarus. According to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Russia launched six missile strikes and four air strikes on February 27, and most of them came from Belarusian territory. On February 25 Russian troops seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which means they have entered Ukrainian territory from Belarus. Russian forces continue to attack Kyiv from the north, which suggests that they still use Belarusian territory for incursions into Ukraine, and such a practice is unlikely to stop any time soon.
Lukashenko, however, promised to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Belarus will not deploy its troops to the neighboring country. Given Belarus’ economic dependence on Russia, and presence of thousands of Russian troops on the Belarusian soil, Belarusian President unlikely had much choice but to break the promise he made to the Ukrainian leader.
Recently, Lukashenko openly told the Kremlin to sort out its own media, since in the Russian media space an anti-war narrative is still relatively strong. Indeed, before launching the invasion, the Kremlin did not prepare the ground at home. Thus, Russia is losing media war, both abroad and within Russia. Even with Belarusian help, it is not very probable that Russia can defeat the Ukrainian Army, especially if it soon gets jets and other equipment from the European countries. If Russia gets defeated in Ukraine, it will also be a defeat for Alexander Lukashenko. He linked his fate with that of Putin, and if eventually a palace coup takes place in the Kremlin, is is unlikely the Belarusian leader will politically survive.
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