Home » ‘A war not involved’: What prevented Belarus from direct confrontation with Ukraine? | Ukraine War | Al Jazeera

‘A war not involved’: What prevented Belarus from direct confrontation with Ukraine? | Ukraine War | Al Jazeera

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‘A war not involved’: What prevented Belarus from direct confrontation with Ukraine? | Ukraine War | Al Jazeera

Russia and Belarus started the first joint air military exercise this year in Belarus. This round of exercise is planned to last until February 1 and include all airports, air defense systems and air force training areas in Belarus. It should be pointed out that Belarus is one of the republics of the former Soviet Union and a close ally of Russia.

the defense ministries of the two countries did not specify the number of aircraft taking part in the exercise or under what philosophy the exercise will be conducted, but regardless of the circumstances, the exercise will include aerial reconnaissance operations, joint patrols along the border and air support for troops , Landing of tactical troops, delivery of supplies and evacuation of the wounded.

The Russian foreign ministry appeared to be trying to prevent any explanation of the purpose of the exercise outside the context of the official announcement, and has always emphasized that the purpose of holding the exercise is to “prevent escalation”.

Partnership or Alliance?

Belarus is known to allow Russian troops to use its land and military infrastructure, so Ukraine and the West see Belarus as a party to the conflict, something Minsk has vehemently denied, stressing that it never sent troops to Ukraine battlefield.

Nonetheless, Western countries are closely watching joint military activities between Russia and Belarus. To understand the importance the West attaches to this cooperation between the two countries, we need to recall an agreement Moscow and Minsk signed last year to establish a single defense space. The West believes that, given the modernization of Belarusian military aviation and the retraining of pilots, this single defensive space could, at least in theory, be transformed into a nuclear weapon.

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In addition, the situation on the border between Belarus and Ukraine is not peaceful. Both countries have at times accused each other of firing on the border and violating the demarcation line.

Belarus said attempts to engage in dialogue through the border commissioner and the Defense Ministry had not yet yielded positive results, and that it had remained vigilant against provocations.

The escalation of military cooperation and repeated joint military exercises between Russia and Belarus has raised many questions, especially as the war in Ukraine continues, in which Minsk may become a side.

The Russian Ministry of Defense did not issue an official statement to explain the nature of the military exercises held by the country’s forces with Belarusian forces, but released some videos of the exercises (Russian media)

Are these routine exercises or preparatory operations?

Regarding this question, Russian military expert Viktor Litovkin replied in an interview with Al Jazeera that the air forces of the two countries will cooperate in operations during the exercise, which means that there is a unified order to ensure maximum readiness to deal with external threats.

According to him, the interaction between the two countries in the air domain includes tactical flight exercises, and this is a very important issue, because the S-400 air defense system that Russia recently delivered to Belarus needs to be used at the highest level of coordination.

On the other hand, the current exercises could also pave the way for future joint nuclear missions, which would provoke a negative and harsh reaction from the West.

Litovkin went on to say that the Russian and Belarusian statements on personnel training, based on the fact that the United States has taken the lead in violating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which prohibits the transfer of such weapons to non-nuclear states, is likely to mean that the two countries A similar nuclear mission is about to begin.

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Belarus’ role in the Ukraine war
Russian troops at the border crossing on February 24, 2022
Place names from top to bottom: Belarus, Russia, Kyiv, Ukraine (Al Jazeera)

Will Belarus be drawn into the Ukraine war?

Yevgeny Bregriman, chairman of the “Minsk Dialogue Committee”, believes that it is unlikely that the Belarusian army will participate in the Ukrainian war-unless there is a “deliberate attack” in Belarus, rather than what happened in December last year. That was the case – at the time Belarus announced that a Ukrainian missile had landed in the country’s Brest region, but that was not a sufficient reason to escalate the situation, as it was when a missile landed in Poland last November .

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Bregman continued that the leaders and people of Belarus do not want to participate in the war in Ukraine, because it is almost certain that once the Belarusian army joins the Russian army, the battlefield will inevitably shift to the Ukrainian war. territory of Belarus. As to the extent to which the participation of Belarusian troops may affect the actual course of the war, it can be said that such participation will certainly change the state of hostilities.

According to Breg Liman, the Belarusian army includes nearly 65,000 personnel, of which the number of military personnel ranges from 45,000 to 50,000. He also concluded that “even in the context of partial mobilization by Russia, this figure is insignificant.”

Joint military exercises between Russia and Belarus include conducting aerial reconnaissance and organizing joint patrols along the border (AP)

Is Belarus under pressure from Russia to join the war?

Danisk Karkodinov, director of the Russian Political Forecasting Center, believes that, on the one hand, Russia does not need Belarus to engage in direct military intervention with it; on the other hand, Russia also understands the impact of this decision on Belarus because China is not currently ready for the idea of ​​going to war and declaring mobilization.

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Karkodinov also recalled statements by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko – who made it clear that Belarus’ participation in the war would depend on threats to its national security.

According to Karkodinov, in the current situation of the war, for Russia, it only needs to ensure that “no one can hit it in the back from Belarusian soil”, while at the same time in the Russian Special Military Operations Under the banner of the United Nations, prevent possible attacks on Belarus from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, as well as any intervention by forces to aid Ukraine.

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