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Opposition: Belarusian army grows stronger but unlikely to join war against Ukraine

by Martin Fornusek November 2, 2023 9:44 AM 2 min read
A Belarusian soldier walks through a newly-built camp on a site previously used by the Belarusian army that could potentially accommodate up to 5,000 Wagner troops, on July 7, 2023, 90 kilometers southeast of Minsk, near Tsel, Asipovichy District, Belarus. (Getty Images)
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The Belarusian army has grown stronger in terms of combat readiness and equipment, but this does not necessarily translate to additional risks for Ukraine, Belarusian opposition leader Pavel Latushka told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Nov. 2.

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Belarusian troops have carried out "permanent" military exercises, Latushko, head of the opposition organization National Anti-Crisis Management (NAM), said at the Forum 2000 summit in Prague.

"When you are constantly taught military skills, it means your combat readiness will be higher," he said.

The Belarusian military's capabilities have also been boosted by an increase in domestic defense production, as well as equipment supplied by Russia, namely air defenses and aircraft, Latushko added.

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"But this does not mean an additional risk of aggression by the Belarusian army against Ukraine," the opposition leader said.

"This is not thanks to Lukashenko... This is thanks to Belarusians, as 80%-90% of them oppose fighting against Ukraine."

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko aided Russia's war against Ukraine in 2022 by allowing Moscow to launch troops and missiles from the territory of Belarus.

Since the failure of the Russian offensive against Kyiv, the number of Russian troops in Belarus has been steadily dropping.

According to Latushko, there are around 2,000 Russian soldiers remaining in the country. Ukraine's Border Guard Service noted that this includes mainly personnel who service Russian equipment stationed in Belarus.

Ukraine's northern neighbor also reportedly hosts up to 1,000 Wagner fighters who relocated here after their short-lived rebellion against the Kremlin. Some of them had received Belarusian citizenship and were accepted into the Armed Forces of Belarus as instructors, Latushko said.

Border Guards: Russia appears to have withdrawn troops from Belarus
There are still some members of the Russian Armed Forces remaining in Belarus, but these are predominantly military personnel who service Russian equipment left in the country, said Andriy Demchenko, the spokesperson of Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service.
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