The Belarusian military concludes exercises with new land strike groups today.
The strike groups have trained for quick mobilization and deployment to the Belarus-Ukraine border. The exercise comes after Belarus’s recent creation of the Southern Operational Command bordering Ukraine. More exercises in the newly created military command are scheduled for the end of June 2022.
Mobilization on the Belarus-Ukraine border has some fearing Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko send forces into Ukraine to support Russia. Russian forces used Belarus as a staging ground for their invasion, but Belarus has remained officially neutral in the conflict so far.
Short-term, it is unlikely Belarusian forces will enter Ukraine. The Ukraine war remains highly unpopular with both the Belarusian public and military. Likewise, a Belarusian deployment would bring increased sanctions, public discontent, and likely high military casualties, all of which would undermine Lukashenko’s support of Russia. As such it’s more likely the current drills are meant to divert Ukrainian attention to the West and support Russia’s offensive in the eastern Donbas.
While Belarus will not deploy forces, expect them to remain a staging area for Russian forces. Medium- to long-term, they will continue to provide medical aid and allow missile launches from their territory.
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Wescott is a Copy-Editor and Senior Analyst. His thematic focuses are international security, politics, economics and public policy.