06/23/2022, 09.58
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Ukrainian crisis: Minsk poised between war and peace

by Vladimir Rozanskij

So far the Russians have used Belarus to launch missiles and as a short cut to try to take Kiev. Critics and supporters of Lukashenko are against involvement in the conflict. Moscow pushing for direct Belarusian intervention.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Belarus' armed forces are not taking part in Russia's war against Ukraine, but the Russians are launching rockets from Belarusian territory, and have begun part of the invasion maneuvers from there.

Military experts and observers have been discussing for weeks the possibility of explicit intervention of Minsk soldiers in the conflict. The Ukrainian Defense Minister's spokesman, Aleksandr Motuznjak, said in a televised debate that Belarus has concentrated about 4,000 soldiers on its borders with Ukraine, and Russia could add more troops to them and begin a new assault.

Belarusian expert Valerij Karbalevič spoke with Currentime.tv correspondents to comment on the possibility of Belarusian participation in the war, distinguishing between "the military and political components, and we see a growth of preparation for acts of war with the development of political propaganda." In recent days Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukašenko has said that Poland intends to occupy western Ukraine, "and we cannot allow it."

However, the decision is in the hands of the dictator in Minsk, who has always been good at exploiting the weaknesses of others, and especially those of Moscow. "It is one thing to join the victor, quite another to merge with a defeated country," Karbalevič notes.

On the one hand, one must take into account the negative consequences of economic sanctions, and on the other hand, the decidedly unfavorable reactions of Belarusian society on Russia's participation in the war. Both those for and against Lukašenko are against the conflict.

In Bobruysk in recent days the Belarusian president himself said that "no one knows how this war will end, and no predictions can be made." This surprised everyone, because until now he had always assured that Russia will win without argument, thanks to its enormous military superiority, attacking Zelenskyj for his stubbornness in refusing to surrender.

The joint maneuvers between the Russians and Belarusians in recent months are not considered by experts to be sufficient to make predictions, because the war capability of any army is revealed only in the course of battle. "As with sportsmen," according to Karbalevič, "no matter how much they train, strength is revealed during competition."

Belarus appears to be well supplied by the Russians themselves, especially in artillery and missile equipment, while tanks remain as they were at the end of the USSR, and only a few special units appear up to the challenge.

Many claim that it is Putin himself who is pushing Lukašenko to enter the war, but the Belarusian president denies such pressure. Yet since the beginning of the year the two have already met five times, and each time conversing for several hours.

Lukasenko has said after each meeting that "we talked about imports and trade," but it is quite clear that Belarus's participation becomes crucial if another attempt is to be made to take Kiev and the whole of Ukraine. As long as the military operation remains limited to the Donbass, Belarus can afford to sit back and wait for events.

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