Two pending questions about Belarus. Will Lukashenka order to attack Ukraine?

December 02, 2022

What signs can make us think that the threat for Ukraine is imminent

There are two pending questions for us, regarding Belarus.

The first one is whether or not Lukashenka will give his army an order to attack Ukraine. The second one is whether his army will carry out this order, because there are commanders there who are able to think critically and assess what may go out of it for them.

What signs can make us think that the threat for Ukraine is imminent? For instance, military equipment, which, as an outside observer can see, is moved from Russia to Belarus and back for some reason. Russian military equipment is repaired there. Russian conscripts are trained there as well. All this costs a lot of money. These are huge resources and a huge help provided by Belarus to the Russia. Manoeuvres near the Ukrainian border are another huge service, because in this way Lukashenka makes Ukraine to react, he draws part of the Ukrainian forces — reserves that could be used in other sectors of the front.

Lukashenka understands that he is stuck in the Russian war, he has no way out, so now he is trying to show his usefulness to Putin in all ways. Will this be enough? Who knows. The mysterious death of the Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makiej – as one version says – is a signal to Lukashenka himself. As for whether Putin will remove Lukashenka and in what way, it depends on the situation. As soon as it arises, Putin has many ways, apart from Novichok, to create serious problems for Lukashenka up to the point of physical elimination or a coup, their special services are there and ready, they did not go to the front.

Currently, the Belarusian army has 10-15 thousand trained and equipped soldiers. But I would like to emphasise that they never took part in real hostilities. So, they can show themselves well at exercises, but how will they show themselves in a real situation? Add morale, motivation, as an essential factor of combat readiness. I don't know what motivation the Belarusians may have, apart from the injection of the "Russian World". They understand where the territory of Belarus is, and where the territory of the neighbouring state is, if they are sent here. This has nothing in common with defence.

Again, I'm not saying that Belarusians don't know how to fight. We just don't know how capable they are of fighting.

If the total strength of the Belarusian army is said to be 40,000 people, there must be twice or three times more troops to provide those 40,000 bayonets. And there are only 40,000 in Belarus. Therefore, the number of combatants will be much smaller than those 40,000.

Can the Russian army absorb the Belarusian? This cannot be done without absorbing the state, because Lukashenka, figuratively speaking, is still kicking out a bit with his sovereignty.

If Putin faces a complete fiasco in Ukraine and is forced to leave the Ukrainian territory, while staying in power, it will be a signal (especially among Belarusians themselves) that Putin will step up efforts to absorb Belarus. Then Lukashenka has something to fear. The fate of Belarus can be very sad in this case. If, of course, such a scenario is realistic — Putin withdraws troops from Ukraine and at the same time remains in power. The possibility of future demilitarisation of Belarus depends on the fate of Russia. One can hardly produce not one, but several realistic scenarios. The fate of many countries is being decided in Ukraine now. If it manages to convincingly defeat Russia, perhaps, there will be much better prospects for Belarus


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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