European Russian Ally ‘Preparing for War,’ Drills Executed Near EU Border

European Russian Ally ‘Preparing for War,’ Drills Executed Near EU Border

The leader of Belarus, a staunch ally of Russia, says his nation is ready for war.

Belarus, which was dubbed by The Economist in May 2021 as “Europe’s last dictatorship” and is located to the north of Ukraine, was a staging area when Russian troops invaded Ukraine in 2022. Belarus, once known as “White Russia” clung to the Soviet model after the fall of the Soviet Union, of which it, like Ukraine, was a part.

While visiting the city of Grodno, in the western part of the country, from the capital of Minsk, Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko spoke about preparations for war, the state-run news agency Belta said, according to the website Meduza, a Russian- and English-language news site based in Riga, Latvia.

“Don’t believe anyone who says we want to go to war. We’re preparing for war — I openly admit that. I’m not the one who came up with the maxim, ‘If you want peace, prepare for war.’ But it’s very correct,” he said.

Belarus is “training the relevant units” and supplying soldiers with “various weapons and equipment,” he said.

On Friday, Lukashenko said Belarus will suspend participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, according to The Associated Press.

The 1990 accord limits the numbers of tanks, combat vehicles, warplanes and heavy artillery that can be deployed. Russia left the treaty last year, and NATO nations then walked away from it as well.

“The suspension of Belarus’ participation in the CFE Treaty affects the balance of power and security in the entire Euro-Atlantic region and sends a signal to Western countries that Minsk intends to become an active military player in the region,” Belarusian military analyst Alexander Alesin said.

Belarus is home to Russian tactical nuclear weapons, along with missiles and troops, according to the publication Foreign Policy.

Last week, Belarus launched military drills along its borders with Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine, according to The Kyiv Independent, an English-language outlet based in the Ukraine capital.

Belarus regularly holds such drills near its borders.

Past maneuvers have prompted Latvia and Lithuania to increase their border defenses. Poland’s response to the drills was to announce it would position a tank battalion new the border with Belarus, The Kyiv Independent reported.

Arvydas Anusauskas, Lithuania’s defense minister, has said his nation is alarmed by Russia’s positioning of nuclear weapons near the Belarus border with Lithuania, according to Foreign Policy.

“We would like to see a harder response on that,” Anusauskas said. “If [the] Russians move nuclear weapons closer to us, we need to move as well.”

One commentator said the move had minimal military significance but carried large political overtones.

“The Russians can reach any place in NATO with nuclear missiles with what they have on their own territory,” Rose Gottemoeller, a former U.S. arms control envoy and deputy secretary-general of NATO.

“It does not change the threat environment at all. So it is purely a political message.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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