A. Lukashenka takes part in Russia’s war against Ukraine, albeit does not regard himself as an aggressor
Lukashenka has been actively supporting Russia’s narrative on Ukraine since autumn 2021. He has recurrently blamed the Ukrainian leadership for the escalation of the regional security situation. According to Minsk claims, Ukraine has lost its sovereignty and is now a U.S. tool to act against Russian interests. Lukashenka stepped up his hostile rhetoric during the joint Russian and Belarusian exercise Zapad in September 2021, when for the first time he named Ukraine a military threat to Belarus.
In autumn 2021, referring to an allegedly worsening situation on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, Lukashenka announced the decisions to strengthen the border and hold a joint Belarusian–Russian military exercise in Belarus. Under the disguise of union Resolve exercise, Russia deployed an unprecedented number of ground and air force units, and military equipment to Belarus in early 2022. On 24 February, Russia launched an offensive towards Kyiv from the territory of Belarus. Following Russian invasion into Ukraine, Belarus deployed its military units along the Belarusian–Ukrainian border.
Lukashenka’s multifaceted support enabled Russia’s offensive in Ukraine from the north. In addition to the Russian ground forces advance, Russian bombers and close air support aircraft conducted air raids from Belarus. Belarus-deployed Russian units launched a large number of Iskander missiles to Ukraine. Russian forces used Belarusian military and civilian airfields for logistical and medical support. Belarus also delivered armoured fighting vehicles, weapons, and ammunition supplies to the Russian Armed Forces.
Although Lukashenka accuses Ukraine of it allegedly planning to attack Belarus, he publicly rejects the possibility that the Belarusian Armed Forces could take part in combat actions in Ukraine. He admits that Belarus is taking part in Russia’s so-called ‘special operation’ but emphasizes that Belarusian role is limited to allegedly securing Russia’s rear. Belarusian troops have been deployed at the border with Ukraine since February 2022.
Russia has unlimited access to Belarusian military, civilian infrastructure and is provided with other necessary support. In October 2022, Lukashenka announced that due to increased threats to the Union State, the Russian-Belarusian Regional Grouping of Forces would be deployed to Belarus. Under this pretext, Russia has renewed a build-up of its forces in Belarus. Also, Russia plans to upgrade Belarusian aircraft to carry nuclear weapons.
Unrestricted possibility for Russia to deploy its forces to Belarus negatively affects the security of Lithuania and other NATO member states. In the event of a military conflict with NATO, Russia would use Belarusian territory, air space, and infrastructure without any limitations; Lukashenka would also provide Russia with military support.
RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES IN BELARUS AND THEIR ACTIVITIES AGAINST UKRAINE