Belarus prepares for war | International
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Belarus prepares for war. Russian headquarters and tank workshop for months, the country that Alexander Lukashenko rules with an iron fist woke up this Friday with the news that he is immersed in an anti-terrorist operation against an undefined enemy. Some local media report that a discreet mobilization is taking place to reinforce his troops. The Kremlin already took this same step on September 21, mobilizing some 300,000 reservists. Barely three weeks later, the first civilians called to arms against Ukraine have died.
Despite the seriousness of the announcement, the Belarusian Foreign Minister, Vladimir Makéi, informed his citizens of the activation of the anti-terrorist operation through an interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia. According to Minsk, “some neighboring states are planning provocations related to the seizure of some extensions of Belarusian territory,” Makéi said, without specifying which countries are in the plural, what it consists of, or how long its operation will last.
Hours later, Lukashenko confirmed to Rossiya 1 television that this measure involves the deployment of joint units with Russia on its territory. “The base of these allied forces will be provided by Belarus, and will be supplemented by the Russian Federation,” he added.
The president called a meeting with his collaborators on October 10 where he assured “through unofficial channels” that Ukraine supposedly wants to attack Belarus despite being totally focused on recovering its territory. “Tell the president of Ukraine and the other crazy people that the Crimean bridge will look like flowers if they touch a single meter of our territory with their dirty hands,” said the Belarusian president, who announced this week that his government and the Kremlin will deploy together within their borders.
The newspaper nasha niva has reported, for its part, a covert mobilization in rural areas under the guise of what is known as “recruitment of partisans”, a mere training. According to their sources, the Government’s pretext is to test the combat capacity of existing units, and for this it is calling citizens who must do compulsory military service.
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The key will be the volume of this supposed mobilization, still unknown. According to an official of the Armed Forces of Belarus, a recruitment of up to 2,000 people would be aimed at reinforcing the personnel of individual units for limited missions, such as artillery. Another source added that the red line will be 5,000 members, since this would mean that the government’s intention is to create a shock force (several, if there are more than 10,000 recruits).
The Belarusian authorities have confirmed that, by order of Lukashenko, the recruitment centers will verify, together with local organizations and companies, the military status of their citizens between October 12 and November 12, an initiative that nasha niva considered exceptional. However, the Belarusian uniformed officers deny that a mobilization will take place. “There is nothing to worry about. It’s just a planned job. As they say, gunpowder must be kept dry; and if for a soldier gunpowder is cartridges and grenades; for the employees of the enlistment centers it is the documents,” said the military commissioner of the Brest region, Oleg Konovalov, at a press conference broadcast by local media.
The Belarusian check-up is reminiscent of the one that began in Russia in the summer, months before the mobilization decreed by Vladimir Putin on September 21, in which he assured that only reservists with previous military experience would be called up, something that has not happened in mass recruitment. In addition, the Ministry of Defense promised that day that the new recruits would not be sent to the front.
The Russian authorities have recognized for the first time the death of mobilized people just three weeks ago. “Unfortunately, the military registration and enlistment office has confirmed the death of five inhabitants of the southern Urals who were called by the Korkino military commissariat. We will provide all necessary assistance to the families and friends of our fallen soldiers,” the Chelyabinsk Governorate announced on social media.
These are the first known official cases, although several local media have revealed these days the death of more people who have not had time to be trained. For example, earlier this week the death of three other residents of Sverdlovsk became known.
This Friday, at the meeting held by the leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Astana (Kazakhstan), Lukashenko reiterated that the former USSR is experiencing an open confrontation with the West. “What we have talked about for years has come true. A true hybrid war has been unleashed against us, and Ukraine is just a pretext”, he stressed to his colleagues during the summit.
Belarus has been key in the Kremlin’s offensive on Ukraine. Its border is the shortest road to kyiv and passes through the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, whose threat serves as a pressure tool for any negotiation. Under the guise of holding joint exercises in February, the Russian armed forces deployed thousands of soldiers and air squads there for several months. Despite promises that they would return to their bases, Minsk confirmed on February 20 that they would remain there indefinitely. Four days later, they attacked.
Likewise, Belarus has ceded its airspace to Russia to fire missiles at Ukraine. According to nasha nivaafter taking a break in September, the Kremlin rockets crossed the Belarusian sky again on October 6.
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