Ukraine Fears Belarus Could Become New Frontline As Border Sees Troop And Weapons Build-up | DW News

in ukraine authorities are warning that moscow is gearing up for a new push in the donbass region but it’s not just the east of ukraine causing concern ukraine’s border with belarus is also seeing a troubling military buildup western intelligence agencies say that russian soldiers and weapons systems are ready and waiting in belarus to open a new front against ukraine something that would stretch kiev’s forces considerably dw’s nick connolly went to the border region near charnev to see for himself here on ukraine’s border with belarus you’re never really alone i’m not sure that drone is one of ours actually it is but that’s not a given it was a russian drone attack from across the border that started the war for these ukrainian border guards on february 24th they tried to keep russian forces on the belarus side by blowing up the bridge but the russians came all the same and stayed for nearly a month since the russians left in april the shooting around here has largely been restricted to exercises on both sides of the border the fear now among many ukrainians is that russia’s exercises in belarus could suddenly turn into real warfare just like they did in february russian forces have never left belarus instead their so-called exercises keep getting extended ukrainian leaders long said their presence was just a distraction or a bluff rather than a real threat but recently russian troop numbers over the border have risen and the tone from belarusian leader alexander lukashenko has grown ever more aggressive ukraine’s actions are also speaking a different language these images from the belarusian government apparently show ukrainian forces mining their side of the border in recent days much of the thousand kilometer frontier between ukraine and belarus was barely marked let alone defended before this war back then trips across the border for groceries were to see a doctor or part of everyday life we used to go to belarus and they would come to us we all just got on somehow i didn’t even think a war like this was even possible who knows what’s next the war has taken its toll on many family ties that span this border many people here in the village have relatives on the belarusian side some of them have stopped talking to each other because of the war i believe ukraine will win eventually it has to we can’t afford to lose many locals here have given up their jobs to try to make sure that holds true you for on it we have a security guard a driver shop assistance locksmiths constantine’s life changed overnight he was called up but in charge of dozens of men in the territorial defense force his experience some brief military training at university he’d never actually fought people in other places can’t know what it feels like when bombs are falling and your child is terrified of everything most of us here have never even been in a fight until the war and then when it starts you know if the enemy comes you do what you need to do without thinking twice the atmosphere here might seem relaxed and domestic with neighbors and even fathers and sons serving side by side but the real sense of threat is never far away costington tells us he’s never yet had to call her family with news of a fatality it doesn’t sound sure it’ll stay that way and i’m joined now by katya glad from the center for european policy analysis she’s an expert on belarus and russia thank you so much for joining us um as we know and as we’ve heard belarus has long served as a staging ground for um the russian invasion of ukraine but are the people in that report now right to fear that belarus could become the latest front in the russian offensive yeah good morning sarah i think there are certainly signs that there has been an increase in military activity um along the border with ukraine and belarus we know that they have been certain russian equipment brought back to belarus particularly around two airports not far from the border with ukraine we have also seen uh some preparation for mobilization like efforts we heard for example that in one area in the south uh men were um asked to show up for a potential military draft and obviously lukashenko also said um several days ago that belarusia will always support russia but on the other hand even lukashanka’s rhetoric has been a bit ambiguous because he was also trying to say that this is not our war that we are fighting so i think at the moment we don’t really know whether these are the signs for lukashenko to show his loyalty to putin and to show preparedness to fight but actually avoid doing so or whether it is indeed a very uh gradual um engagement of belarus into the war we know that the kremlin has been quite active in other spheres to drag belarus slowly in the uh processes which are they interested in but at the same time the fundamentals remain the same belarusian army is very small it’s poorly trained it has no combat experience so most military experts think that even if belarus participates it would be to a very marginal degree more like in some subversion um intelligence efforts um or likely to again protect the russian army in the rear rather than participating in a full-scale invasion how about the people um within belarus um how do they view the war in ukraine do we do we even know um and are they worried about getting further dragged deeper into the conflict yes there are some independent polls which are now mostly conducted through the internet so they really cover people who only have access to the internet but um by all the statistics available it’s over 80 percent of the belarusian population and the picture there inside belarus is actually quite different from what we see within the russian public for example a few days ago two polls came out which confirmed the trends that over 85 percent of belarusians are against the belarusian armed forces um being deployed to ukraine and that has not really changed um since the beginning of the war and this is probably also um what prevents lukashenka from agreeing to give the belarusian army to putin because that would be devastating for him politically and people even within the regime of alexander lukashenko himself are very likely to think the same what the belarusian public think that this is not the belarusian war and it is really shame that belarus is part of that thank you so much karcia glad as we mentioned you’re joining us from the center for european policy and analysis thank you for sharing your expertise
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