Ukraine fears a new Russian offensive from Belarus

The Ukrainian army said Thursday it was worried about the “growing threat” of a new Russian offensive from Belarus, its northern neighbor, whose territory served as a rear base for Russian forces for their invasion of Ukraine at the end of february.

“The aggressive rhetoric of the military and political leaders of Russia and Belarus is intensifying,” Oleksiy Gromov, an official with Ukraine’s military staff, told reporters. “The threat of the resumption of the offensive on the northern front by the Russian armed forces is growing,” he said, as Moscow and Minsk launched a joint military force in recent days.

“Cut the main supply routes”

According to him, “this time, the offensive could be (launched) west of the Belarusian border to cut off the main supply routes for foreign arms and military equipment” arriving from western Ukraine, in particular through Poland.

Earlier in the day, the Belarusian intelligence services (KGB) had affirmed for their part that “almost every day we see an increase in intelligence activities from Ukrainian territory, daily attempts to violate the airspace of Belarus quoted by the state news agency Belta.

“Unfortunately, the situation is developing very seriously in our southern direction,” said the head of the Belarusian KGB, Ivan Tertel, without giving further details.

“Up to 9,000 Russian soldiers” and 170 tanks deployed

On Monday, the Belarusian Ministry of Defense announced that “up to 9,000 Russian soldiers” and around 170 tanks would be deployed in Belarus, an ally of Russia, to integrate the new military group recently created between the two countries.

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The launch of this new force supposed to defend the borders of Belarus against a supposed Ukrainian threat was announced last week, at a time when the Russian army suffered several military setbacks in Ukraine.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at that time accused Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine of preparing “terrorist” attacks and an “uprising” in Belarus, raising fears of direct intervention by Minsk in the conflict in Ukraine. Belarus, however, has since assured that the joint military force with Russia was purely “defensive”.

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