On 20 March 2022, the General Staff of the Armed Forces declared that Ukraine still faces a high threat of a major Belarusian offensive in the Volyn direction (northwestern Ukraine).
According to Ukrainian intelligence, Belarus might join up with Russian forces and enter into a full-scale war with Ukraine. The President’s Office also reiterated the warning.
However, Ukrainian top brass underline that Ukrainian forces are on high alert and fully ready to hold and fight back.
Many experts and analysts believe that the Belarusian army will join forces with Russia and attack Ukraine in the coming days. Putin firmly controls Aliaksandr Lukashenka and is ready to use his ally’s troops – the Belarusian army – as “cannon fodder” in Ukraine
Looking back over the past 25 days of heavy fighting and incessant shelling, we can see that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have pretty much eliminated many important divisions of the Russian Army – the Ryazan Airborne Forces, the 150th Idritsa-Berlin Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class Motor Rifle Division, the Kantemirovskaya Division, the Tamanskaya division, Pskov paratroopers and Kadyrov’s “holiday makers.” The remnants of Kadyrov’s soldiers have already returned to Chechnya, leaving hundreds of their countrymen lying on the fields of Ukraine.
Thus, Russia’s forces have become seriously depleted. More manpower is required, and this is what Belarus can provide.
According to military and security forces, Lukashenka decided to stand by his all-time Kremlin ally in this war, and ignored the resistance and refusal voiced by Belarusian public opinion and military personnel. And yet, the Belarusian dictator treads lightly as he fears a sudden uprising and revolution in his own backyard.
A member of the Ukrainian security forces notes that Belarusian soldiers have little or no combat experience, have no clear reasons to engage in a war with Ukraine, and are not at all motivated to wage war in another country. He believes that “the Belarusian military will become simple cannon fodder”.
In addition, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have launched several appeals to the Belarusian military:
“This is not your war! But, your children and men will die on our land. Stop while you still have a chance!”
Disruptions and poor railway connections between Belarus and Ukraine
In the meantime, Oleksandr Kamyshin, Chairman of the Board of Ukrzaliznytsia, announced that there was no more viable railway connection between Ukraine and Belarus, and thanked the Belarusian railway workers for their quick response.
“I recently appealed to the Belarusian Railways not to carry out their president’s criminal orders and refuse to transport Russian military towards Ukraine. Today, I’m pleased to announce that there’s no railway connection between Ukraine and Belarus. I won’t go into detail, but I’m very grateful to the Belarusian Railways for their quick reaction,” he said.
Mr. Kamyshin refused to specify the exact date of the suspension of operations, but confirmed that the railway tracks were in poor condition.
“I believe that there are many good people left among Belarusians, and especially among Belarusian railroad workers. I’m grateful for this strong show of solidarity among Belarusian railroad employees,” Kamyshin added.
However, several incidents were reported earlier. On the night of 16 March on the Farinovo-Zagattya section (Vitebsk branch of the Belarusian Railways), the relay cabinet of alarm, centralization and blocking was burned. Before that, Belarusian Zerkalo reported that, according to Belarusian security officials, “from 28 February to 1 March in the Mogilev, Gomel and Minsk regions three cases of destruction of signaling equipment, blocking of railways were recorded.” The Belarusian guerrilla groups Busly Lyatsyats and BYpol claimed responsibility for that event.
Belarusian security forces openly say that opposition to Russian aggression in Ukraine was the reason for the sabotage.
Belarus gearing up for partisan warfare
In other areas, some Belarusians have begun organizing small partisan groups to counter Russian presence and create obstacles for the Russian army – they stop Russian trains, damage Russian equipment, hand out leaflets to discourage Belarusian troops from going to war in Ukraine, etc, Franak Viačorka, senior adviser to exiled Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, said.
“Ukraine will win! Belarus will also be liberated!” Viačorka added.
Viačorka stated that the Russian troll factory has increased its activity on Instagram and Facebook, trying to sow hatred and distrust between Belarusians and Ukrainians.
Russian military presence in Belarus
Military cooperation between Belarus and Russia has always been frequent, but the drills, exercises and troop movements have escalated in the past year.
Russian military aircraft use Belarusian airfields to carry out air raids on Ukrainian cities, and Belarusian warehouses, fuel depots, and hospitals are used to meet the rear needs of Russian army units in Ukraine. In addition, many Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities have been carried out from Belarus.
On 12 March, Belarus announced that five battalion tactical groups would be deployed to the Ukrainian border to replace the military. At the same time, Minsk denied that they were preparing to enter the war on the Russian side, calling it a simple “rotation.”
On 17 March, it was reported that the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Belarus Air Force would carry out helicopter training over Minsk throughout the entire evening. Combat simulations were reported.
Journalists and activists in Belarus continue recording movements of military equipment, including tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), as well as heavy trucks carrying Iskanders, a mobile short-range ballistic missile system.
On 19 March, it was reported that Vladimir Putin has decided to move more troops from Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Belarus.
The final choice lies in the hands of the Belarusians
It is common knowledge that ordinary Belarusian soldiers and civilians are against the war. But, Lukashenka, like Putin, does not much care about his people’s feelings. If they move into Ukraine, this will lead to the first war between the two neighboring nations. Tragically, ordinary Belarusians, those who obey Lukashenka, will return home in coffins as the Ukrainian army will destroy any man who dares set foot on Ukrainian soil – Russians, Chechens or Belarusians.