By moving troops into Belarus, Russian soldiers open up another wing where Ukraine will have to prepare for a possible attack. – It increases the chances of Russian success, a military expert explains.
Both the Russian and Belarusian defense forces in recent days have sent new photos of Russian soldiers on the ground in Belarus: they stand in line and greet fellow Belarusians, load armored vehicles and drive tanks on icy roads.
On the way to the Belarusian border with Ukraine.
– What Russia is doing now is placing its entire forces in the western part of Ukraine. Lieutenant-Colonel Pale Yedestibo, an expert in military strategy at the War School, says the Russians would create such a larger forward parade, if they entered Ukraine.
VG special about the possible course of the war: – It looks like a scene from the First World War
And after meetings on Friday between American Anthony Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, the latter claims that Russia does not represent a threat to the Ukrainian people.
But Russia moved anyway What might look like an invading force of around 100,000 soldiers Near the border with the neighboring country. In addition, they notified someone Military exercise in Belarus with Belarusian forces in February.
For fear of a Russian invasion, he has Ukraine Reinforced the front line towards eastern Ukraine. Russia already has indirect control over the two pro-Russian breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk.
An attack from pro-Russian lands is considered unlikely, because one then has to cross a network of fortified trenches.
A possible Russian invasion would likely come from Kharkiv, northern Ukraine, via the annexed Crimea in the south and possibly from the Black Sea Fleet, as Ydstebø previously explained to VG.
And now from a new wing: Belarus in the West.
– The presenter explains that this forces Ukraine to either deploy its forces and thus reduce the line of defense, or to focus on the area where they think the attack will come.
– But if Russia invades Ukraine from the territory of another country, what does this mean for Belarus?
– It is likely to confirm that Belarus has become a Russian monarchy. But with the developments there over the past year, Lukashenko had no choice but to do what Putin wanted.
Ydstebø believes that Russia will win the troop transfer anyway. If the exercises in Belarus are tougher to put pressure on Ukraine and NATO, they will succeed. If there really is a war, the Russians are stronger.
– These troop movements do not determine whether a war will break out or not, they determine very well the outcome of the negotiations, and how Russia feels about them. But it increases pressure, both diplomatically and militarily, and thus increases Russia’s chance of success, says Yedistibo.
VG also sent written questions to researcher Karen-Anna Eggen, in the Department of Defense Studies, about the situation around troop transfers:
– How do you explain the military exercises in Belarus?
This is a further escalation of an already tense situation. Russia and Belarus have practiced a lot together before as well, but the exercises we have now announced should be seen as a continuation and expansion of the massive force building on the border with Ukraine, she writes.
– It is also an expression of a closer political approach between Putin and Lukashenko. Belarus has been the subject of a political process that has had dire consequences for its people and put President Lukashenko at the mercy of President Putin. Putin appears to be taking advantage of this in the current situation and has made Belarus an active part in the game of Russian security policy against Europe.
– What does the Kremlin gain from increasing pressure on the other wing?
The activities we are now witnessing in Belarus, including Russia’s sending of troops from its Eastern Military District, are exacerbating the situation, creating more insecurity and unpredictability, and increasing pressure on Ukraine and the West. It is also a better position if Russia gives the green light to enter Ukraine, because Kiev is closer to the border with Belarus and an attack from several sides will expand Ukraine’s defense even further.
– But, whether they say they are happy with the threat of war or actually intend to send troops to Ukraine, we do not know. Russia appears to be concerned that the latter should at least appear credible, and what we are seeing now is no ordinary military activity.
– How is the security situation in the Black Sea
The situation in the Black Sea is tense. If Moscow gives the green light for a full-scale invasion, the annexed Crimea could be used as a staging ground for an invasion across Ukraine’s southern flank. Russia also has a large military presence in the Black Sea and could block commercial traffic and the movement of allies if we get a further escalation of the conflict.
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