Putins ally amasses troops on Ukraine border fuelling fears Belarus will join war

Russia: Putin unveils new Belarus deal to strengthen alliance

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The Belarusian military chief has insisted the amassing of troops is not aggressive, instead claiming Ukraine gathered 20,000 people close to the border. He stated that the alleged move required a “response”. Belarusian dictator Alyaksandra Lukashenko is widely regarded as Putin’s junior accomplice in the illegal invasion of Ukraine, having allowed the despot to use his country as a staging post to invade the country from the north, and as a base from which to perform airstrikes.

But despite this, he has yet to commit Belarus to join Russia in direct combat against Ukraine – although he does seem to anticipate conflict.

Mr Lukashenko, announcing continued military cooperation with Russia in manufacturing missiles, said: “We are realists, we understand that we will not be able to defeat NATO.

“But we can cause damage, especially to those territories from which we will be attacked.”

The Belarusian chief of the general staff of the armed forces Viktor Gulevich, said on Telegram: “The group created over the past six months has more than doubled both in quantity and quality.

“The appearance in the waters of the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas of a group carrying sea and air-based cruise missiles, an increase in the aviation group in the countries of Poland and the Baltic states indicate a growing threat to the Republic of Belarus.”

He stated that Belarusian troops had been deployed to the border “in order to ensure the security of the Republic of Belarus”.

This is the same reasoning Minsk has given over the last few months for building troops up on their borders with NATO allies such as Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

He added: “The grouping created by the armed forces of Ukraine in the southern operational direction with a total number of up to 20,000 people also requires a response from us.

“In order to ensure the security of the Republic of Belarus in the southern direction, the forces of the units of the special operations forces are deployed in three tactical directions.”

He said Belarus would also deploy air defence, artillery and missile units for drills in the west.

Minsk has not thrown its full weight behind the invasion Mr Lukashenko admitting last week he had not anticipated the conflict would “drag on in this manner”.

He emphasised that he does not share Russia’s seemingly optimistic outlook on the outcome of the war, adding: “I want to stress one more time: I feel like this operation has dragged on”.

The dictator also called for an end to the war, trying to position Belarus as an intermediary despite the role it played in the initial launching of Putin’s assault.

He said: “We categorically do not accept any war.

“We have done and are doing everything now so that there is not a war”.

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Belarusian people have made very clear their objection to both the war and the idea of their country joining it.

Protestors have sabotaged railway lines, preventing the transport of Russian military equipment through the country.

According to the Belarusian Interior Ministry, they have done so over 80 times.

The Belarusian government has severely cracked down on the protests, with deputy interior minister Gennady Kazakevich saying: “As you know, you can’t negotiate with terrorists, you can only destroy them”.

Belarusian security forces have been given permission to use firearms against the saboteurs, and have reportedly done so on multiple occasions.

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