Belarus is building up its military on Ukraine’s border and bragging about the ‘high combat readiness’ of its troops

Belarus is building up its military on Ukraine’s border and bragging about the ‘high combat readiness’ of its troops
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Vladimir Putin Alexander Lukashenko
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko at the Kremlin on September 9, 2021.

  • Belarus’ president called Ukraine an “enemy” and said his troops are combat-ready.
  • Aleksander Lukashenko also said his country is increasing its military presence on Ukraine’s border.
  • Lukashenko is a close ally of Putin and aided his invasion of Ukraine.

Russian neighbor and ally Belarus said it is boosting its military presence along its border with Ukraine, with its president saying its troops are combat-ready.

Aleksander Lukashenko called Ukraine an “enemy” in a recent speech and said his soldiers along Ukraine’s border have a “high combat readiness,” according to a translation of his remarks by Ukrainian outlet Euromaidan.

He also said Belarus has increased the number of its troops and missile systems.

“Special operations forces have been deployed, including not only border guards but also our military personnel. As the border guards report, they have now blocked the likely direction of enemy movement,” Lukashenko said, per Euromaidan.

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He added: “Air force and air defense troops are on high alert — both ours and Russian forces, with full coordination between them.”

Belarus, which borders both Ukraine and Russia, is seen as loyal to Russia and something of a Russian puppet state. Lukashenko has been in power since 1994 and is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The country has not been directly involved in Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but it has aided Russia’s efforts since it began in February 2022.

Thousands of Russian troops entered Ukraine from Belarus at the start of the invasion. Russia also launched ballistic missiles into Ukraine from Belarusian territory, and Russian bomber aircraft launched missiles at Ukraine from Belarus’ air space.

Russia has also stationed tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus since the full-scale invasion began.

Lukashenko’s comments suggest that he’s worried about Ukrainian troops getting closer to his border, something other Belarusian officials have also expressed concerns about.

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This includes a high-ranking Belarusian military official saying in late June that Ukraine was “attempting to drag our country into the war.”

In response, Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service said that all of Ukraine’s activities near Belarus’ border were just defensive, Euromaidan reported.

Ukraine has painted Belarus’ statements as part of a disinformation operation. In May, Ukrainian officials said that Russia may carry out a psychological operation aimed at “stirring up mass panic” in Ukraine by making people believe Belarus’ troops would join the fighting.

“We expect a series of provocative statements by the top leadership of Russia and Belarus threatening Ukraine soon,” the Ukrainian Security and Defense Council’s Center for Countering Disinformation said.

There have been no signs that Ukraine would send any troops into Belarus, and it’s something that would likely be met with a strong Russian response.

There is also no indication as yet that Lukashenko is considering sending troops into Ukraine.

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He said last year that his soldiers would join the war if Ukrainian soldiers entered Belarus.

It is unlikely that Belarus’ troops would make a big impact even if they did enter the war.

Mark Cancian, a retired US Marine Corps colonel and defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider in 2022 that “the Belarusian armed forces are small and weak.”

He said Belarus’ military would get “eaten alive” if it invaded Ukraine and said “the Belarusians have been very careful not to get their own troops involved.”

The UK Ministry of Defence also said in March 2023 that Belarus’ army is much less experienced than Russia’s military.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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