Header Ads Widget

Ukraine exposes Russian military plans for a Full-Scale Invasion of Belarus

Ukraine exposes Russian military plans for a "full-scale invasion of Belarus"

Ukraine seems to be not the only country that Russia has been plotting to invade in recent years. According to information released by Ukrainian military intelligence, Russia allegedly developed a detailed plan to invade and occupy Belarus in the summer of 2020.

On April 19, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate stated, "After the falsification of the presidential election in Belarus, the Russian Federation developed a plan to invade and suppress popular protests." Ukrainian intelligence has released what it claims is a secret Russian military document outlining the justification and plan for an invasion of Belarus.

The document mentioned Belarus' "tense" situation following the country's deeply flawed presidential election on August 9, 2020. It alluded to opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's "subversive activities" while in exile in Lithuania, and claimed that a "large-scale information campaign" was underway to build support for a violent regime change in Belarus. The document argued that if this could not be avoided, Russia would be drawn into a full-scale war with NATO.

The plan was outlined in the document as a "plan to regroup the formations and military units of the First Tank Army in the vicinity of the mission" to invade Belarus. The troops would deploy "under the guise of participating in a joint exercise with the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus," according to the plan.

It was impossible to independently verify the accuracy of the information made public by Ukraine. If the Ukrainian intelligence claims are correct, a full-scale invasion of Belarus in the summer of 2020 was a very real possibility, less than two years before Russia did a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Given the tense state of relations between Moscow and Minsk in the run-up to Belarus' presidential election in August 2020, the existence of a Russian invasion plan is plausible. In contrast to Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka's current close strategic alliance, there was significant tension in the relationship throughout 2019 and the first half of 2020.

Putin had reduced Russian subsidies and economic assistance to Belarus as a result of sanctions and a struggling economy. Moscow was also pressuring Belarus to make a number of concessions, including hosting a new Russian military base on its soil, deepening the integration of the country's armed forces, and accepting a resurrected economic integration project that would effectively end Belarusian sovereignty.

Lukashenka was resisting these efforts and attempting to mend Minsk's relations with the West, for his part. In early 2020, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Belarus in an effort to "normalize" strained relations with the country.

Pompeo stated at the time, during a meeting with Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimer Makei, that "the United States wants to help Belarus build its own sovereign country." Our energy producers are prepared to deliver 100% of the oil you require at competitive prices. Your country should not be forced to rely on a single partner for its prosperity or security."

There were indications at the time that Lukashenka's efforts to preserve Belarusian independence by attempting to move the country closer to the West alarmed Russia's military intelligence, the GRU, and its Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR.

Over the last two years, the geopolitical situation has shifted dramatically in Moscow's favor. Following the August 2020 Belarusian presidential election, Lukashenka's brutal crackdown on dissent, as well as his subsequent alienation from the West, he has grown increasingly reliant on the Kremlin. It appears that a full-scale Russian invasion of Belarus is no longer necessary.

Without firing a shot, Putin has gotten everything he wants in Belarus. Lukashenka is completely reliant on Moscow, which has allowed Russia to carry out a "soft annexation" of the country. Belarus has effectively become a de facto extension of Russia's Western Military District, allowing Moscow to expand its economic and political spheres of influence in the country.

Belarus has also become entangled in Putin's Ukraine War. Despite the fact that Belarus has not yet contributed troops to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Lukashenka has allowed Russia to use Belarus as a staging area for Russian troops and has allowed Putin to launch airstrikes against Ukrainian cities from Belarusian territory.

Russia's dominant position in Belarus may be jeopardized as a result of its supporting role in the conflict. Belarusian public opinion is strongly opposed to the war in Ukraine, with efforts underway to sabotage the country's railway network in order to obstruct Russian troop transit. Meanwhile, hundreds of Belarusians have volunteered to fight alongside Ukraine's volunteer battalions. As the war drags on, the risk of domestic destabilization in Belarus increases dramatically.

For the time being, Putin is mired in the Ukraine crisis. He could, however, return to a full-scale military takeover of Belarus if public opposition to Belarusian involvement in the invasion of Ukraine grows and threatens to undermine Russian influence. According to recent Ukrainian claims, such an operation may already be planned.

Source: Atlanticcouncil - Brian Whitmore is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center, as well as an Assistant Professor of Practice at the University of Texas at Arlington and the host of The Power Vertical Podcast.

Post a Comment