(PatriotWise.com) – Last Wednesday, Belarus announced plans to move troops and equipment within the country, prompting renewed fears that the Russian-allied nation may be preparing to involve itself in Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
In October, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reached a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to deploy troops as part of a joint regional force, reinforcing Belarus’ earlier support for its ally Russia.
Just before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Belarus and Russia conducted joint military drills near the Belarusian border with Ukraine. Lukashenko then permitted Russia to use Belarus as a staging ground for the February 24 invasion.
Last week’s announcement renewed earlier concerns that Belarus would enter the conflict in Ukraine. So far, Belarus has stopped short of committing troops to Russia’s war.
While Lukashenko has publicly supported Russia’s attack on Ukraine, drawing sanctions and international criticism against Minsk, he has repeatedly dismissed speculation that Belarus would send its troops to fight alongside Russian forces in the conflict.
The Belarusian Security Council justified the movement of troops and equipment around the country as a counterterrorism exercise. Details of the troop numbers and types of equipment were not provided in last week’s announcement.
According to state-run news, Belarus plans to shut down roads and transportation links throughout the country in support of the operation.
Last Wednesday’s announcement comes as Belarusian lawmakers authorized the death penalty for service members or government officials convicted of “high treasons.” Additionally, the legislature passed a new law criminalizing the spread of disinformation about the Belarusian military.
While speaking during a televised meeting of Moscow’s Human Rights Council last Wednesday, President Putin said the duration of his “special military operation” will be “a long process,” but added that talk of additional mobilizations “makes no sense.”
He said Russia would “defend ourselves with all the means at our disposal” and blasted the West for treating Russia like a “second-class country” with no right to exist.
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