Is Lukashenka ready for a war?

October 18, 2022

The anti-terrorist operation announced by Lukashenka on October 14 should be seen precisely as covert mobilisation. Moreover, it involves not only the mobilisation of personnel.

As for Lukashenka's intentions or the reality of the threat that comes from Belarus, in addition to the known assessments of the military power of that country and the mood of its population, it is important to understand if Lukashenka himself is ready for this.

He is one of the longest-living heads of state (legitimate or not). The instincts of a politician, which are sometimes more important than strategic and analytical assessments, allowed and still allow him to preserve his power.

I agree with Mr. Roman Bezsmertnyi that October 10 was a turning point when Lukashenko was again on the brink of giving the command to attack. The situation was the same as at the beginning of the Russian invasion, and on October 10, if Lukashenka had seen signs that Ukraine might capitulate or collapse, he would obviously have taken the opportunity to join the victorious camp. But on the same day, October 10, or the next day, it became clear that the results of the massive missile strikes on Ukraine not only failed to achieve their goals but worked against the Kremlin. That is why Lukashenka returned to his position of maximum balancing, despite he received another $1.5 billion loan from Putin.

Lukashenka will now focus on:

  • Political support for Putin (we have already seen this from voting at the UN General Assembly).
  • Provision of Belarusian territory for attacks on the territory of Ukraine.
  • Technical assistance for repair of military equipment and transfer of stocks kept in Belarus to replenish Russia's losses.

The anti-terrorist operation announced by Lukashenka on October 14 should be seen precisely as covert mobilisation. Moreover, it involves not only mobilisation of personnel (call-up from the reserve and replenishment of military units) but also another attempt to mobilise society. In my opinion, none of these goals will be achieved.

However, we should be aware that the problem with his decision-making lies in Lukashenka’s personal perception of this threat. We hear his absolutely paranoid statements that Ukraine is preparing an attack, NATO is preparing an attack on Belarus. We cannot be completely sure if he himself believes in it. If he really believes in it at some point, there is a high probability of unforeseen steps on the part of Belarus.

Impartial data on Ukraine's readiness to meet a possible aggression from Belarus is a decisive deterrent factor. Lukashenka successfully evades the Kremlin's pressure and its urge to openly join the war. He is not a judoka but he gives Vladimir Vladimirovich a head start with judo techniques (when the opponent's strength is used against him).

A question arises every time, repeatedly voiced by Lukashenka: God forbid, there will be a blow on Belarus! Will such a blow be delivered?

I would say, the moment will come when Ukraine will seriously consider a strike against Russian positions in Belarus. There is simply no other way to protect facilities on the territory of Ukraine from strikes or drone attacks at the moment.

Strikes from the territory of Belarus on Ukraine have been carried out since the first day of the war, but Ukraine so far refrained from direct military actions against Belarus, having a full legitimate right to do so. The restraining factor, in my opinion, was to deprive Lukashenka of an opportunity to justify his possible invasion.

However, on October 10, some strikes were carried out from Belarus. So, the time will come when the damage from strikes outweighs the risks associated with the need to deliver strikes to destroy the positions from which missiles are launched on the territory of Ukraine. But this should also be preceded by an offer of a choice to Lukashenka — either he begins to use his powers to protect Belarusian sovereignty, or he should be ready to be repaid for all he did against Ukraine this year.


Oleksiy Melnyk

Co-Director, Foreign Relations and International Security Programmes, Coordinator of International Projects

Born in 1962 in Khmelnytsty Rgn


Royal College of Defence Studies, London, UK (2007)

Air Field Operations Officer School, Biloxy, MS, US (2001)

Squadron Officer School, Montgomery, AL, US (1994)

Defence Language Institute, San Antonio, TX, US (1994)

Chernihiv Higher Military Air Force Academy, Ukraine (1984)


1980 – 2001 — Air Force Active Service (Cadet, Instructor Pilot, Flight Commander, Squadron Commander, Deputy Air Force Base Commander, Participant of two UN peacekeeping operations, Lt.Colonel (Ret)

2001 – 2004 — Razumkov Centre

2004 – 2005 — State Company Ukroboronservice

2005 – 2008 — Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Head Organisational and Analytical Division — First Assistant to Minister of Defence

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