Belarus Ramps Up Border Patrol After Saboteurs Destroy Rare Russian Plane

Belarus is reportedly increasing patrols along part of its border shortly after a rare Russian plane was destroyed in the country.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on Monday morning that some Belarusians said the nation had increased security along its borders with Lithuania and Poland.

"They checked at the exit, shook all the things, inspected everything," a Belarusian citizen who crossed the border on Monday told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

"Normally, personal belongings are not checked when leaving, only passports are checked by border guards. And here it is. I was taking my equipment, I was worried about it. Everything was examined in detail. The bus driver said that he had not seen such a thing for at least a year," the Belarusian citizen added.

The report comes shortly after a Russian airplane was destroyed on the ground on Sunday by a group of saboteurs in Belarus using drones. Since the start of Russia's invasion in Ukraine, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The planned and successful drone attack as well as serious damage to the only such aircraft in Belarus would cause questions among the Russian command about the Lukashenko regime's ability to take care of Russian military equipment," Hanna Liubakova, a Minsk journalist and non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Newsweek regarding the incident.

In a series of tweets, Franak Viacorka, an adviser to the exiled Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, confirmed that the Russian plane was destroyed.

A Belarusian border guard checks drivers and vehicles entering the border zone near the border with Ukraine on February 15. Inset, a Beriev A-50 early warning plane flies over Red Square during the Victory Day military parade marking the 75th anniversary of victory in World War II, on June 24, 2020, in Moscow. On Sunday, a group of Belarusian saboteurs reportedly destroyed a Russian A-50 airplane. NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP; Handout/Getty Images

"GLORY TO BELARUSIAN PARTISANS! Partisans from the 'Pieramoha' (Victory) plan confirmed a successful special operation to blow up a rare Russian plane at the airfield in Machulishchy near Minsk. This is the most successful diversion since the beginning of 2022," the tweet said.

"Two Belarusians conducted the operation. They used drones for this operation and have already left the country and are in safety now. The cost of the destroyed airplane is 330 mln euros," another tweet from Viacorka said.

Tsikhanouskaya also responded on Twitter and said, "I am proud of all Belarusians who continue to resist the Russian hybrid occupation of Belarus & fight for the freedom of Ukraine. Your brave actions show the world that Belarus stands against imperial aggression. Glory to our heroes!"

According to the Kyiv Post, the plane that was destroyed was a rare A-50 surveillance plane.

The Belarusian opposition government agency, BYPOL, also announced the destruction of the Russian plane, saying in a Telegram post that the "A-50 plane was attacked from the air in Machulyshche."

Since the start of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, Belarus has remained an ally of Russia, but has not entered into any direct conflict. However, Lukashenko said this month that if any aggression is committed against Belarus, the country would respond.

"I am ready to fight together with the Russians from the territory of Belarus only under one circumstance—if at least one soldier from there [Ukraine] comes to the territory of Belarus to kill my people," Lukashenko said.

Newsweek reached out to the ministries of foreign affairs in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia for comment.