Speculation has abounded since Vladimir Putin announced his “special military operation” in February over the potential involvement of Russia’s ally in the conflict. The latest operation report from the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces claims a mobilisation of the people of Belarus is now being considered as a possibility.
President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s men “continue to be in the border areas [with Ukraine] of the Brest and Gomel regions”, according to the report.
The General Staff added: “According to available information, the military commissariats of the specified regions are studying the possibilities of covert mobilisation of the population.”
The New York Times has also drawn attention to “military drills” near the border with the Kyiv region, which are “raising tensions and putting the Ukrainian authorities on high alert”.
Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this month downplayed fears of Belarus opening a new front in Ukraine.
He said on June 6: “We are preparing for all the risks of invasion, but so far our analysts and experts do no see real risks of a second invasion from Belarus.”
In the few weeks between then and now, speculation over involvement in the war by the Russian ally has heightened.
Spectator Assistant Online Editor Lisa Haseldine this week asked whether Belarus could join forces with Russia in Ukraine and concluded that this would be a “hugely risky move” for Lukashenko in terms of his popularity at home and that he would rather “wait the whole thing out”.
But she noted that upcoming events “may change things still”.
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He claimed in May: “We categorically do not accept any war. We have done and are doing everything now so that there isn’t a war.
“Thanks to yours truly, me that is, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun.”
Reports suggest, however, that missiles have been fired into Ukraine from Belarus.
Putin has also promised Lukashenko new missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
During a televised interview, the Kremlin leader said: “Many Su-25 [aircrafts] are in service with the Belarusian military. They could be upgraded in an appropriate way.
“This modernisation should be carried out in aircraft factories in Russia and the training of personnel should start in accordance with this.”
It is suggested that the opening of a new front by Belarus would pull Ukrainian forces away from other regions and weaken their defences against Russian troops.