Ukraine Could Face New Threat Soon

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In the middle of its counteroffensive, Ukraine could soon be facing a renewed threat to its North. Belarus, the dictatorial state closely linked to Putin, is conducting military excercises according to Reuters.

The Belarus defence ministry said the exercises were aimed at assessing the degree of preparation of state institutions to mobilise reservists. All Belarusian men must perform military service, and remain in the reserves after completing it.

Belarus’s military capabilities are rather small compared to Russia and Ukraine, but it has several assets that make it a vital ally with Russia. Its long border with Ukraine has been used by Russia ground troops and aircraft to invade Ukraine. This made the initial of Ukraine more difficult, as Ukrainian troops had to be mobilized to the North to prevent a total takeover of Kyiv.

Belarusian forces have not directly joined the war on Russia’s side, but President Alexander Lukashenko has said his country would enter the conflict in the event of “full-scale aggression” against it.

Russia continues to conduct training in Belarus and launch air attacks from its air bases, being a thorn in the side of Ukraine which is fully committed to its Southern counteroffensive. Some Ukrainian reports have even alleged that Belarusian troops had participated in early combats in 2022.

Belarus allowed Russia to use it as one of the launchpads for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. Since then, it has held frequent exercises with Russia and let Russian forces use its bases for training. This month it took delivery of Russian tactical nuclear missiles that President Vladimir Putin said were intended as a warning to the West.

Belarus is not the only possibility of attack against Ukraine other than Russia. Transdniestria, a breakaway state to the East of Moldavia, also hosts some Russian troops. Although these soldiers have not been used against Ukraine, it is yet another flank that Ukrainians have to keep a watch on.

Belarus is also a problem for NATO’s Baltic forces. Its Westernmost point is very close to Russia’s exclave Kaliningrad, itself neighboring Poland and Lithuania. Prior to the Ukrainian War, NATO plans put a great focus on the “Suwalki Gap,” the thin stretch of land that linked NATO to its three Baltic members. While a Russian attack there is highly unlikely, it continues to be a contingency the United States prepares for. Protests in Belarus against Lukashenko are no longer existential for his regime, but could be another reason for this exercise.

Ukraine: Russia Is Bringing Out Special Troops For Defensive Operations


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