Ukraine’s Zelenskyy vows to bolster Belarus border defenses against potential threats

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President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was committed to prioritizing bolstering defenses along Ukraine’s northern border with Belarus amid the presence of several potential threats.

“I held a long meeting today on the situation in the region - security, the situation on the border, the situation in the border areas of neighboring Belarus,” he said in his nightly address, which he delivered from the city of Lutsk.

He added: “The priority is to reinforce each region, our entire northern border.”

Russia had used Belarus as the launchpad for the February 24, 2022, invasion. Additionally, a substantial number of Russian forces, including units from the Wagner mercenary group, remain stationed in Belarus. Moreover, Russia initiated this year stationing of tactical nuclear weapons within the territories of Belarus.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had vowed in February to join Russia in war against Ukraine if his territory or people were attacked. He said: “I'm also ready to wage war, alongside the Russians, from the territory of Belarus. But only if someone - even a single soldier - enters our territory from there [Ukraine] with weapons to kill my people.”

However, analysts don’t see the likelihood of Belarus attacking Ukraine. Washington-based think tank Institute of Study of War (ISW) wrote in an assessment: “Belarus is extraordinarily unlikely to invade Ukraine in the foreseeable future… A Belarusian intervention in Ukraine, moreover, would not be able to do more than draw Ukrainian ground forces away from other parts of the theater temporarily given the extremely limited effective combat power at Minsk’s disposal.”

Furthermore, ISW experts said: “Lukashenko’s setting of information conditions likely further constrains Belarusian willingness to enter the war. Lukashenko continues to set informational conditions to resist Russian pressure to enter the war in Ukraine by claiming that NATO is preparing to attack Belarus.”

However, there may be a risk of Wagner forces launching an attack from the Belarusian border, according to the former British Army chief of general staff General Richard Dannatt. He said last month that Ukraine should bolster its defenses against a potential attack led by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin launched at Kyiv from Belarus.

He added that if Prigozhin has “kept an effective fighting force around him then he presents a threat again to the Ukrainian flank closest to Kyiv,” where the war began. Lord Dannatt said it “is quite possible” that Russia may use Wagner forces to try and take the Ukrainian capital again.

Read more:

Wagner’s Prigozhin could lead attack on Kyiv from Belarus: British general

Belarus will not reveal where tactical nuclear weapons are deployed: Official

Lukashenko claims to have decision-making power over use of Russia’s nukes in Belarus

Belarus will sign contract with Wagner if fighters relocate to Belarus: Lukashenko

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