London: Fears that Belarus could soon be forced to join the Ukraine war are growing after military vehicles were seen with ‘combat symbols’ painted on them, media reports said.
State TV footage of armoured vehicles taking part in snap ‘combat readiness’ drills near Ukraine’s borders showed they have red squares painted on them, which would allow drivers to recognise each-other during actual combat, Daily Mail reported
President Alexander Lukashenko has so-far avoided throwing his army into the fighting in Ukraine, but has allowed Belarusian territory to be used for attacks.
Russian troops attempting to take Kyiv early in the war had advanced on the city from Belarus, and missiles which devastated the capital were fired from there.
Pressure is thought to have been growing on Lukashenko to commit his forces to the fight after Russia began placing more of its own troops on his territory in September, Daily Mail reported.
But he is hesitating – likely because he fears that his army, a shadow of its Russian counterpart, would be mauled in the fighting.
Since control of the military is vital to maintaining control of the country, that could spark a serious challenge to Lukashenko’s rule – coming just two years after he narrowly survived the last popular uprising.
Throwing Belarusian troops into the fight would likely change little in the long-term, but could open up short-term tactical advantages for Putin with the battle currently at a stalemate.
Moscow has been forced to resort to long-range missile attacks on Ukraine’s power and heating network with its forces at a near-standstill on the battlefield, with a fresh wave of drones sent at Kyiv.