Belarus Readying Missiles for Combat as Ukraine Enters Second Year of War

Belarus is in the process of readying missiles for combat as the war in Ukraine enters its second year.

In a Telegram post on Friday, the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus shared a video of several vehicles transporting missiles and wrote that "as part of combat readiness measures, one of the missile units is moving to the designated area."

Friday marked the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, after President Vladimir Putin announced the "special military operation" on this day last year. Since the start of the war, Russian troops have been stationed in Belarus, which shares borders with Russia and Ukraine. However, Belarusian troops have avoided direct military conflict with Ukrainian forces.

On February 18, the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine said that "Military Intelligence of Ukraine is monitoring the actions of Russian forces in the territory of Belarus around the clock and the attempts of the terrorist country to fully involve the Belarusians in the war against Ukraine."

Belarus military training
Cadets of the Military Academy of the Republic of Belarus hold a combat training at the Belaya Luzha training center outside the town of Zhodino in the Minsk region on February 17, 2023. On February 24, 2023, the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus said that it was readying missiles for possible combat. Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty

While speaking with ITV News in Britain, Andrii Cherniak, a representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine said: "We see that Belarus seems to be supporting Russia, and at the same time is trying to refrain from joining the war by all possible means. We also see how much Russia is pressuring them."

The Defense Intelligence update noted that the Belarusian military might be forced to follow the orders of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko "and may be involved in the invasion of Ukraine."

A few days before the update from Ukraine's Ministry of Defense, Lukashenko held a press conference in which he spoke about the war in Ukraine and if he would join his ally, Putin, in the war.

"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, according to BelTA, a Belarusian state-run news outlet. "If they commit aggression against Belarus, the answer will be most cruel."

Lukashenko added that while he does not want war, Russia is an "ally, legally, morally and politically."

Following the press conference, Hanna Liubakova, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Newsweek that Lukashenko's comments were "an attempt to send a signal to the West that he has nothing to do with any escalation on the front and further involvement of Belarus in the war."

Newsweek reached out to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry for comment.