Will Belarusian troops enter war in Ukraine?
Political analyst Aliaksandr Klaskouski examines how high the probability of Belarusian troops invading Ukraine currently is. If it does happen, what would the consequences be for Belarus?
Alexander Lukashenko and Belarusian generals have acknowledged the concentration of tactical military units in the south of the country but explain it solely by the tasks of protecting its borders from an alleged Ukrainian military threat.
According to Arseni Sivitski, head of the Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies, the Kremlin may put Lukashenko in a situation “where he will simply have no choice”. But Belarus has a small army, mainly equipped with Soviet-era weapons. Moreover, the morale of the troops is not high either. There have been reports that most Belarusian soldiers do not want to fight against Ukrainians.
If they join the hostilities against Ukraine, the Belarusian units have no chance not only to fulfill their tasks but also to avoid defeat, Sivitski believes. If it is not possible to avoid sending troops to Ukraine, Minsk will try to send as few of them as possible, and “after the first negative experience”, it might even suspend their participation in hostilities.
Some observers believe that participation in the war may quickly shake up the Belarusian regime and lead to its downfall. Anti-war sentiments are strong in Belarusian society, and economic hardships may cause protests from the currently apolitical part of the population. It seems, however, that mass protests are unlikely in the short term. In addition, the regime will probably become even harsher in suppressing any discontent, going even further along the path of totalitarianism.
But there is one important external factor. “War leads to the degradation of Russia, which is the main guarantor of Lukashenko’s power,” stresses political scientist Valery Karbalevich. When Russia “finds itself in a very bleak situation”, the chances of change in Belarus will increase, he concludes.