A senior Ukrainian military official has cast doubt on a future attack by Belarus this winter, saying the country is unlikely to get involved in the war unless its Russian allies can demonstrate the manpower needed to launch a fresh offensive on Ukrainian soil.
In comments on state television on Tuesday, Ukrainian Armed Forces spokesman Yevhen Silkin said the likelihood of an attack from Belarus will largely depend on Russia’s ability to provide at least 50,000 troops. reinforcement to the attack through its ongoing mobilization efforts – an objective. Silkin said the country is unlikely to meet for some time in the spring.
However, he said the threat of attack could increase “significantly” early next year depending on Russia’s ability to meet its enlistment targets.
“We can be sure (that the Russian Federation will launch a new offensive from the north) when there are enough enemy troops on the territory of Belarus,” Silkin said, according to a translation of his remarks. speak Kyiv Post. “Namely, when they reinforce the troop grouping to around 50,000 to 70,000. Then we can say that the Russians are ready for a new offensive.”
The comments come weeks after Ukrainian officials first reported reports of increasing military activity at the Belarusian border along the country’s northwestern edge. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko previously allowed Putin’s armies to use his country as a launching pad for the Russian invasion and spoke of a possible joint force between the two countries.
Although Ukrainian General Oleksii Gromov told reporters on October 20 the government did not view the buildup as pure “demonstration actions”, military officials were quick to assert that an invasion from the north, while a threat to be taken seriously, was not imminent.
However, the renewed comments from kyiv come at the same time as British intelligence officials have claimed that Moscow is trying to portray Belarus as “increasingly complicit” in the Russian war effort. On Tuesday, British intelligence officials claimed evidence of a pair of Russian fighter jets ‘parked’ at a Belarusian airfield next to what they believed to be a nuclear-capable AS-24 ‘Killjoy’ missile at a Belarusian airfield in what they described as a “message to the West”.
However, the move is probably of little practical strategic importance. Experts have noted that the missile’s 1,200-mile range gives Russia little additional advantage in terms of striking additional targets in Ukraine,” the UK MoD said in a briefing note.
Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War also said Monday that Putin was “extremely unlikely to seek direct military conflict with NATO“, and remains more likely to use the threat of nuclear war and potential attacks on NATO allies as part of its efforts to deter the West from further support for Ukraine.
Moscow, meanwhile, said earlier this week that there might be conditions under which the Kremlin would be willing to resume dialogue around a peace deal, but only with major concessions to Russian requirements.
Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry for comment.