Putin trying to force Belarus into war against Ukraine says expert
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Alex Kokcharox, a country risk analyst specialising in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, said senior military officers in a Belarussian special forces unit have written an open letter to President Lukashenko, “openly speaking against potential Belarusian participation in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” However, he also suggested the letter could be a hoax, “staged” by the Belarussian leader to show Putin “why he is unable to join Russia’s war in Ukraine”.
Belarus, which is a close ally of Russia, has previously threatened to join the war in Ukraine.
On June 10, Mr Lukashenko warned Belarus may be forced to enter the war to fight for the west of Ukraine so that it is “not chopped off” by NATO.
Belarus has previously said it would step in to support Russia “if necessary”.
The country also formally renounced its non-nuclear and neutral status following a referendum shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, allowing Russia to place nuclear weapons on its territory.
But Belarus has also sent mixed messages when it comes to the country’s involvement in the war.
In March, Mr Lukashenko claimed he had no plans to join Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, according to Belarussian state news agency Belta.
Mr Lukashenko also denied allegations that Russian troops attacked Ukraine from Belarussian territory.
Mr Kokcharoc shared an image of the unverified letter to Twitter, writing: “In #Belarus, a group of senior military officers in a Special Forces unit, in the ranks from captain to colonel, reportedly signed an open letter to the de facto ruler Lukashenka, openly speaking against potential Belarusian participation in #Russia’s invasion of #Ukraine.
“While it is possible that this letter is genuine, there is also another possibility.
“This could be easily staged by Lukashenka to demonstrate to Putin on why he is unable to join Russia’s war in Ukraine.”
This comes as Putin’s invasion of Ukraine appears to be stalling.
As many as 10 Russian generals and 30 senior officers are believed to have been killed so far in combat.
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Meanwhile, as many as 30,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the conflict and up to 100,000 have been injured.
Russia has reportedly lost over 4,000 tanks and armoured vehicles, 216 combat aircraft, 183 attack helicopters and 620 drones.
According to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, Russia will increasingly be forced to rely on “reserve forces” as a result of the heavy losses.
In an update, it said: “Over the coming weeks, Russia’s campaign will highly likely increasingly rely on echelons of reserve forces.
“These consist of several distinct components which Russia has almost certainly already started to field.
“Russia’s Combat Army Reserve is a recent innovation of part-time but volunteer reservists, which deploy as whole units typically ear-marked for rear area security tasks.
“The Human Mobilisation Resource is the sizable pool of all veterans who have served in the regular military in the last five years.
“Russian authorities are likely using volunteers from this category to fill out the third battalions within regular brigades.”
“Despite a continued shortfall in the number of deployable reservists for Ukraine, the Russian leadership likely remains reluctant to order a general mobilisation.”
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