Russia’s defense minister and his Belarusian counterpart held an unannounced meeting in Misk on Saturday. An agreement on ensuring regional security in the military field is said to have been revised. Could the new developments have an impact on Belarus’ role in Ukraine?

New developments in Belarus are making people sit up and take notice: Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Chrenin met unannounced in Minsk on Saturday to further strengthen bilateral security relations between Russia and Belarus. At the meeting, an agreement on the joint guarantee of regional security in the military field was revised, reports the US think tank “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW).

Another meeting between Shoigu and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is said to have taken place afterwards. Lukashenko later announced that Belarusian and Russian armed forces will continue to train together on Belarusian territory so that the “union state can repel any aggression,” according to the ISW. Belarus would also provide trainers to the Russians.

Konrad Muzyka, defense analyst and director of the defense consulting firm “Rochan Consulting”, sees this as an indication that Belarus could become more involved in the Ukraine war in the future.

Konrad Muzyka writes on Twitter that it is likely that cooperation between the two countries will continue to deepen, even if the wording of the changes is not known.

Muzyka writes “given the nature of the visit, it would not surprise us if the Belarusian armed forces were now fully subordinate to the Russian General Staff or the Western Russian Military Defense Command”.

The importance of the whole thing becomes clear above all through the context of the meeting: The Belarusian armed forces have been preparing for war since spring. They tested the capabilities of the armed forces for months: “They tested everything from mobilization to rear support to maneuver warfare,” said the defense analyst.

Nevertheless, the tests would have taken place on a small scale. Minsk has set up several territorial defense battalions, but according to Muzyka these are smaller companies. In another aspect, however, the Belarusians were already further: Minsk had carefully checked the correctness of the address data of citizens subject to military service, according to the defense analyst.

In addition, the Belarusian defense minister has already announced legislative changes that, according to Muzyka, could affect mobilization. Either way, the defense analyst assumes there will be serious repercussions for the further course of the Ukraine war.

Belarusian support for Russia is already having an impact on Ukraine: The mere fact that Belarus is available to the Russian army as a deployment area is forcing Ukraine to keep troops in reserve in the north. After all, Russian air raids are flown from there and tanks and other heavy weapons are now also being made available.

Ukraine can only fend off a direct attack from Belarus by positioning troops on the border. However, Muzyka does not consider the actions to be a mere attempt to further tie down the Ukrainian armed forces on the border with Belarus.

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Thus, Muzyka concludes: “We do not know what the future will bring, but one cannot rule out an attack on Ukraine from Belarus, or significant Belarusian military involvement in the war.” This scenario is not improbable for Muzyka.

The ISW also believes in a deepening of Belarusian support: According to this, Shoigu probably met with Khrenin and Lukashenko to put pressure on Belarus. The Russian offensive in Ukraine is said to continue to be supported by Belarus.

But the ISW estimates the likelihood of Belarus entering the war in Ukraine as unlikely. The reason for this are domestic political factors that would limit Lukashenko’s willingness, according to the ISW. The ISW is thus referring to the politically divided society in Belarus: the protest movement is on one side of the invisible barricade, and supporters of the regime are on the other. The presence of Russian troops in the country is also causing unrest.