17 May 2022, Tuesday, 14:39
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Lukashenka Is On The Verge Of Suicide

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Lukashenka Is On The Verge Of Suicide
COLLAGE: TAISIA ZARIANAVA / LIGA.NET

Why does the regime deploy troops near the border with Ukraine?

Belarusian dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka ordered a "sudden check" of the reaction forces and deployed special forces near the border with Ukraine. But the military potential of Belarus is not enough for a successful attack on Ukraine, experts interviewed by liga.net say.

Most likely, Lukashenka acts under the direction of the Kremlin and draws the attention of the Ukrainian Armed Forces from other directions of the Russian invasion. But the Ukrainian special services track the movement of the Belarusian Special Operation Forces (SOF).

Brief analysis by Ukrainian journalists: what are the Special Operation Forces of Belarus, what threat they can pose to Ukraine and whether Lukashenka will decide to openly participate in the war of Russia?

The military-political leadership of Belarus announced a "sudden" check of the reaction forces on May 4.

"The meaning of this sudden check is that we should unexpectedly withdraw units in case of war. Just imagine that there is aggression. How will it be accomplished? From the western or southern direction? We see several scenarios,” the Belarusian dictator said on May 10.

Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus Viktar Gulevich said that the Special Operations Forces were deployed in three tactical directions as part of the "check", including on the border with Ukraine.

"The military grouping created by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Southern Operational Direction with a total number of up to 20,000 people also requires our response," the Belarusian general said.

We do not know what forces and in what quantity are being deployed to the border. On May 10, eyewitnesses recorded the movement of a military convoy from Minsk to Bobruisk, 230 km from the city to the border with Ukraine. The convoy had the Smerch MLRS under a tarpaulin and the Tochka-U operational-tactical missile system.

Lukashenka also announced that he was going to buy Iskander missile systems from Russia. "They can be used to defend our area," the dictator said.

The SOF of Belarus was created on the basis of the units of the Airborne Forces and the fifth brigade of the special forces of the GRU of the USSR. The International Center for Defense and Security estimates their number at 6,000-7,000 military personnel.

This is mobile infantry, sharpened for helicopter landing, says Belarusian military observer Yahor Lebiadok. In 2015, it was decided to defend the Southern direction at the expense of the SOF.

According to the independent Belarusian press, the SOF brigades have repeatedly taken part in dispersing protests in Belarus after the 2020 presidential election.

Lebiadok recalled that Lukashenka ordered to reinforce the western borders of Belarus with five battalion tactical groups after the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. He even announced a build-up of forces on the border with up to ten BTGs.

"But Ukraine thwarted the plans of the Russian Federation. The euphoria passed, and ten BTGs were forgotten. Now Lukashenka is trying to return to this idea," he says.

Andrei Sannikov, the leader of the European Belarus civil campaign, is convinced that dictator Vladimir Putin uses the territory and the Armed Forces of Belarus to increase tension on the border with Ukraine.

“Most likely, these maneuvers are just a distraction to cover up Russian aggression in the Donbas and to pull back Ukrainian forces,” Sannikov explains in a commentary for the Ukrainian publication.

"This is a distraction for Ukraine to the 'horror story from the north'," Lebiadok agrees. "Everyone remembers how the Russian-Belarusian "exercises" ended in January-February. An atmosphere of political pressure is being created.

The Office of the President of Ukraine considers the movement of Belarusian troops on the border "another brilliant staging."

“It has to prove to the Russians that 'Lukashenka’s Belarussians' are still their brothers, ready to lend their shoulder in an attempted treacherous occupation,” says a spokesman for the Office of the President of Ukraine. But people close to Lukashenka are well aware of the mood in their own army, and especially in society, which looks much more adequately at what is happening in Ukraine, therefore "he clearly understands all the risks from any actions to involve the Republic of Belarus in a real war crime started by Russia."

Lukashenka does his homework from Putin, but he does it in his own way, according to Fyodor Venislavsky (Servant of the People), a member of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense.

"He must react to Putin's requests. But he cannot react correctly, because the open participation of Belarus in the war would be suicidal for him. Therefore, he makes half-hearted decisions and imitates," the People's Deputy explains in a commentary to the publication.

British Defence Intelligence believes that the sudden exercises in Belarus do not pose a threat to its neighbors, but Russia can use them to keep the Ukrainian military in the north.

An independent attack by Belarus is unlikely.

“Even if you take the 20,000 Ukrainian military, whom the Belarusian General Staff shows as a threat, Lukashenka still needs to send almost all the ground forces along with the SOF, consisting of conscripts. This is unlikely," Lebiadok says.

The military observer believes that Russia should return to Kyiv so that the Belarusian troops could strengthen Putin.

“In this situation, the Belarusian SOF can help with reconnaissance, which the Russian Federation clearly lacks in the Western direction, as well as sabotage at infrastructure facilities,” he explains.

According to him, Belarus did not prepare the system of armed forces for attack. "This is a mobile way of waging war to inflict damage on the enemy on its territory, and it is correct for small countries. But large-scale attacks were not programmed,” Lebiadok says. “By common sense, Belarus does not have enough forces to attack, capture and hold.”

Sannikov is convinced that Belarus can use missile troops to destroy infrastructure, but Lukashenka has far fewer missiles than Putin. However, this case should be considered as a very dangerous springboard with absolutely unsafe borders.

“Lukashenka is completely following the Kremlin's scenario,” he says.

The Ukrainian Special Services are actively monitoring the movements of the Belarusian SOF, according to a representative of the Office of the President of Ukraine. “The international community clearly explains to the Belarusians that any active participation in the conflict will have consequences, and the leadership of Belarus continues to play a funny game called “the tail wags the dog,” he sums up.

Venislavsky adds that the military command of Ukraine understands the hypothetical threat from Belarus, and "our forces are there".

“Lukashenka has several nerve-wracking brigades for us, but this will not fundamentally change anything,” he is confident. “It will only end with the death of several thousand of Belarusian soldiers.”