Loyal Russian ally Belarus announced plans Wednesday to move troops and military equipment within the country, once again renewing fears of involvement in Ukraine’s war.
The move follows Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s October deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to deploy troops as part of a joint regional force with Russia, reinforcing earlier support between the two allied nations.
Just prior to the invasion, Belarus and Russia conducted joint military drills near Belarus’s border with Ukraine. Lukashenko later allowed Russia to use his nation as a staging ground for the invasion. (RELATED: US Closes Embassy In Belarus Amid Worries It Will Back Russia’s Unprovoked Invasion)
Russian ally’s most recent announcement renews earlier fears of Belarusian involvement in the Ukraine war. Belarus has so far stopped short of committing troops to Putin’s war, Reuters reported. The Security Council justified the new movement of troops and military equipment around the country as a counterterror exercise, according to the outlet. Details of troop numbers and types of military equipment were not shared.
The country plans to shut down roads and transportation links across the country in support of operations, the New York Post said, citing state-run news. Belarus’s announcement came as lawmakers authorized the death penalty in response to “high treason” committed by service members or government officials, the outlet noted. A new law criminalizing the spread of disinformation about the nation’s military also passed Wednesday.
Analysts suggest that Belarus’s moves in recent weeks could signal commitment of troops. Analysts suggest that Belarus’s moves in recent weeks could signal commitment of troops. According to Ukraine, thousands of troops have deployed within Belarus since October, Reuters reported. Belarus fielded an unannounced December 3 visit from Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to sign amendments to security cooperation agreement, but failed to disclose terms, according to Reuters.