2022-03-29
Belarusian volunteers in Ukraine.

According to Nasha Niva, four Belarusian armed groups are operating or in the process of forming in Ukraine. At least two of them see liberation of Belarus as their ultimate goal. One of the groups is widely publicized, while the most significant unit is being formed with little to no information made publicly available.

The most famous unit is the Kastus Kalinouski battalion. Its leadership consists of Belarusians trained in Ukraine’s Azov regiment, known for its effectiveness in combat as well as its controversial reputation. Several platoons of the Kalinouski battalion have been recently transferred to the command of the Ukrainian armed forces, and the rest of the battalion is likely to do the same in the near future. The Ukrainian special services demanded such a transfer in order to avoid “atamanism”.

A smaller military unit consisting of Belarusians was assembled by Sergey “Malyuta” Korotkikh, a former member of Azov. It includes Belarusian soccer fans. They are based in Kyiv and participate in military operations.

Another armed group of Belarusians, consisting of several dozen people, serves in the territorial defense of Odesa. A new battalion, which is still in the process of formation and includes former fighters from the Belarusian special operations forces, has the potential to become the most significant armed group of Belarusians in Ukraine. It will operate under the command of the International Legion as a part of the Ukrainian armed forces. There is no publicly available information about it yet. It is possible that this unit will receive modern weapons, which the Ukrainian army has at its disposal, but the Belarusian army does not. The Belarusian fighters who join the Ukrainian army primarily want to help Ukraine repel Russian aggression.