The announcement by Belarusian leader Alexander Luksahenko to establish joint forces with Russia in light of supposed Ukrainian and Western aggression is an attempt to aid Russia’s ailing military in Ukraine, analyst Piotr Żochowski from the Center for Eastern Studies (OSW).
In an interview with the the Polish Press Agency (PAP), Żochowski said the move by Lukashenko “should be seen in the context of the way the war in Ukraine has been going.”
The OSW analyst thinks that this is part of Moscow’s attempt to improve both the morale and the actual situation of Russian forces in Ukraine. The move means that Ukraine has to have troops on the border with Belarus and will not therefore be able to commit the numbers it might have wanted in the east or the south of Ukraine.
Żochowski, however, feels that this is not just about Ukraine, saying that “Moscow wants to respond to Lukashenko’s claims that NATO wants to attack Belarus.” It’s a classic pretext to “ratchet up the tension on the border with NATO,” the analyst stated.
Putin, Żachowski suspects, is hoping that he can scare one of the important members of NATO in order to get the West to engage in de-escalation and reducing support for Ukraine.
Russia and Belarus are part of a union that foresees the joining of armed forces in light of an external threat. Lukashenko has over many years been reluctant to engage in such ways, as he also tried flirting with the West for economic reasons.
Since the fraudulent presidential election of 2020, and the repression unleashed against his own rebellious population, Lukashenko has been forced to toe the Kremlin line to a far greater extent. However, he has so far kept his armed forces out of Ukraine. Many commentators believe that he has done so fearing that his own soldiers would rebel against such an order or that his army would be exposed as being far weaker than either the Russian or Ukrainian forces and suffer huge losses that would further weaken his position within Belarus.