The Belarusian regime will seek to play its game in the current Russian-Ukrainian war.
Lukashenka was interviewed by the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), during which he said that 20,000 Russian troops invaded Ukraine from Belarus in February 2022. Otherwise, the interview is a repetition of previous propaganda messages:
- The West prepared the war; the Kremlin only acted pre-emptively;
- the Ukrainian leadership is externally controlled;
- the EU is not on its own;
- Russia will win the war, so it is better to negotiate now.
Lukashenka’s statement that 20,000 troops invaded Ukraine from Belarusian territory is interesting for several reasons. However, even though Ukrainian forces had only limited preparation for an invasion from the north and the invasion itself was a surprise attack, these forces failed to achieve the decisive goals of the campaign. Given the changed situation in the northern regions of Ukraine, a much larger invasion force would now be required to achieve operational success. That is both impossible to hide and beyond the current capabilities of the Belarusian army. Alternatively, a radical change in the tactical situation in favour of the Kremlin will be required.
Sporadic stories in the Ukrainian media about preparing the Belarusian army for the invasion of Ukraine are manipulative and could be part of a Russian disinformation campaign. This would only be necessary if relations between Minsk and Kyiv are more nuanced than implacable hostility.