On Monday, Belarus declared that the joint air force drills it is embarking on with Russia are meant for defensive purposes. However, the maneuvers are occurring as fears heighten that Moscow is attempting to persuade Minsk to enter the conflict in Ukraine.
“The exercise is purely defensive in nature,” said Pavel Muraveyko, first deputy state secretary of the Belarusian Security Council.
From Monday, Russian military aviation personnel will participate in drills with their ally, Belarus. Until Feb. 1, the drills will encompass practice in “aerial surveillance, blocking air raids, protecting significant structures and communications,” Muraveyko further noted.
With this, fears have been spurred in Kyiv and the West that Russia might employ Belarus as a way to activate a new assault on Ukraine as a result of recent developments. In our previous SOFREP report, we discussed the possibility of Russia carrying out false flag operations to trigger Belarus’ engagement in the war.
“It is clear what Moscow wants from Belarus. It is trying to create a pretext for deploying its troops in the country and pushing out Ukraine from the region. The Kremlin wants Belarus to become a vassal state, which would be used as a buffer against Kyiv’s pro-Western ambitions.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that the country should be prepared for potential aggression from Belarus at the frontier between them. Ukraine has been issuing warnings about possible hostilities for some time.
The Kremlin has refuted any claims that they have been attempting to influence Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to become involved in the battle in Ukraine. Minsk has made it clear that it will not engage in the war.
Since the outbreak of the conflict, Belarus has carried out a variety of military exercises, from extensive drills during the end of August to various lesser ones either alone or with Russia.
Like Moscow, Minsk has augmented its drills with weaponry and military equipment.
Since the beginning of the year, unofficial Telegram channels monitoring the military have been reporting the presence of several fighter jets, helicopters, and military transport planes entering the country – eight fighters and four cargo planes on Sunday, being the most recent.
Confirmation of the reports needed to be more attainable, according to Reuters. In response to the speculation, the Belarusian defense ministry stated that “units” of Russia’s air force are being transferred to Belarus.
The Ministry of Defence issued a statement announcing that all airfields and training grounds belonging to the Air Force and Air Defence Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus will be utilized during a tactical flight exercise.
Muraveyko declared that the nation’s southern frontier bordering Ukraine is “not tranquil” and that Ukraine has been “stirring up” Belarus.
Muraveyko said they are exercising restraint and patience, saving their strength for any possible acts of aggression or terror on their land. He added that they have the necessary military power and resources to respond to such threats.
Last week, Aleksey Polishchuk, a representative of Russia’s foreign ministry, cautioned that the joint military exercises with Belarus were meant to stave off conflict. However, Belarus could become involved in the hostilities if Ukraine launched an invasion.
Is Belarus Set to Join the War?
The possibility of Belarus joining a war in Ukraine and Russia has been widely discussed and contested in recent months, especially due to the fact that the two countries are now holding joint military exercises in the region. The joint military exercises are meant to create a deterrence against possible conflicts; however, it is unclear how this would play out if actual hostilities did break out.
The Ukrainian-Russian conflict is complex and multi-faceted, with tensions simmering between the two countries since 2014. In 2015, Belarus signed an agreement with Russia that allowed for the deployment of Russian air defense systems on its territory and resulted in an increased Russian military presence there. This move was potentially setting the stage for Belarus to join forces with Russia during any conflict with Ukraine.
While Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has stated he does not want his country to become involved in any war between Ukraine and Russia, analysts note that he has repeatedly hinted at Belarus’s readiness to defend its interests or even perform as Russia’s ally if needed. Furthermore, Muraveyko declared that their country had enough resources to respond adequately to any threats or aggression, meaning they could join sides at any given moment.
So, while no one can predict what the future holds for this particular geopolitical issue, it is safe to say that Belarus is highly likely to join forces with Russia if a war breaks out between them and Ukraine. The potential consequences of such a scenario remain unknown; however, it may result in an escalation of hostilities and pose a threat to regional stability in Eastern Europe as well as globally.
There are on this article.
You must become a subscriber or login to view or post comments on this article.