The threat of Belarus joining the war in Ukraine is now greater than ever before. March 20, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine recorded signs of preparations by the armed forces of Belarus to invade the territory of Ukraine. Opposite Telegram channels note that military hardware is on its way to the country’s southern border. However, Lukashenka continues to assert that Belarus has not and will not take part in military operations on the territory of Ukraine. The facts assert the contrary. Do the Belarusians want war?

Meanwhile, according to Chatham House, 97 per cent of Belarusians do not support the war in Ukraine and do not want to fight. Numerous sources also attest to this, saying that Belarusian soldiers refuse to enter Ukraine. Soldiers of the Belarusian army have no combat experience, which means there is a high probability of returning home in a zinc coffin. And the lads, as well as their relatives, understand this. Unwillingness to fight and pressure from relatives and society make the soldiers refuse to go to war. But Russia is determined to get the Belarusian army to participate in the war. According to the Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security, the command has started to appoint Russian officers to senior positions.

On February 24, Lukashenka signed a decree on the conscription of reserve officers. The document provided conscription of up to 150 male citizens under 27 years of age, having the rank of officer and enrolled in the reserve in 2022. By comparison, in 2021, such a command got issued on March 18, and 100 officers were drafted. In 2020, the decree was published on May 28 and called up 100 reserve officers. This year, the document has become a wake-up call for Belarusians. Ilya, a 40-year-old manager, decided to leave Belarus after this news: “I thought: here we go. At university, I studied at the military department, the passage of which gave me the rank of lieutenant, the speciality – communications officer. After graduation, I was invited to the training camp three times, but I managed to agree and not to go because it was very inconvenient to break off from work each time. The official authorities of Belarus support Russia’s aggression, and I have no desire to go to war against Ukrainians. I left because I don’t want to be captured and enlisted in an army I don’t want to serve in – the aggressor’s army and its ally.”

It was planned that Belarusian troops would enter Ukraine together with the Russian military. However, a full-scale and official entry did not happen. At the same time, there is evidence that Belarusians were fighting on the side of Russia in Ukraine on February 28. Fighters of the Special Operations Forces were in Ukraine, and there were both prisoners and dead. According to former Belarusian security officials, the Belarusian authorities deliberately kept this information secret.

On March 1, a convoy of troops from Belarus was spotted on the territory of Ukraine – as evidenced by media reports that Lukashenko’s military was spotted in Chernihiv Region. The information about the movement of Belarusian troops was confirmed by Vitaliy Kirillov, spokesman for the regional directorate of the territorial defence force North. However, a full-scale invasion did not happen. The Belarusian army does not have many resources, and there is no desire to fight against the Ukrainians. On March 5, it became known that a Belarusian paratrooper got detained in the Shatsk direction. He said that he had crossed the Ukrainian border to surrender and not to fight with Ukraine. He also provided information about the location of the troops.

Vadym Denysenko, the adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said on 5 March, that Belarusians were leaving the country en masse because they feared they would be drafted into the army and forced to fight against Ukraine. Head of Vilnius Border Guard Service Giedrius Matkevičius reported that the flow of citizens from Belarus increased by 30% on March 5. Most of those who leave Belarus are men. It was confirmed by the Belarusians who stayed behind in the country. “They run straight away, get a Polish visa and leave. They find a country, where they can go without a visa, try to go as far away as possible. They try to get to Georgia, to another country. Some have managed to fly to Dubai,” the Lithuanian edition DELFI quotes the words of a woman from Belarus.

The Ukrainian newspaper OBOZREVATEL reported on March 11 that there were riots in some units deployed in Brest Region, during which soldiers and officers expressed their unwillingness to travel to Ukraine. The publication also reported that officers of the Interior Ministry leave the country together with their families. Commanders and senior officers were sent from Moscow to control the situation in the Belarusian Armed Forces. It means only one thing – from that moment on, the Belarusian army has come under Russian control.

On March 9, it became known that Belarusian men were receiving the military summons. The Belarusian Defence Ministry said that they had sent no documents. However, we have already encountered this kind of thing – the state structures in the country are very fond of shrugging off responsibility, saying that someone is sending false documents for them. There have been known cases of attempts to serve a summons to the army right in the republican referendum held on February 27. “I went to vote at the referendum on February 27, I came to my district centre from Minsk. Already on my way out, a woman from the commission tried to follow me with a piece of paper. “Here is a summons from the military enlistment office”. I asked what kind of summons. She replied that they wanted to clarify some details and asked whether I lived at the address where I was registered. I have a friend of the same age. He also lives in Minsk now but is registered in the village. He called me just 2-3 days before the referendum and told me that his father had been called from the military registration and enquired where he was. They wanted to give him a summons”, – that’s the story of the Barysau edition EX-PRESS.

On March 19, representatives of the Kastus Kalinouski Volunteer Battalion, who are now fighting on the side of Ukraine, issued a statement describing the state of affairs in the Belarusian army. “Lukashenka is being induced to go to war with Ukraine. They have taken away the phones. Increased the number of personalities. Some units are already changing officers because Belarusian officers refuse to follow the orders of the insane commander-in-chief,” the military shared.

There is enough evidence that the Belarusian military does not want to participate in the war between the two dictators. That’s why Ukraine offered the Belarusians to surrender. “We know that Russian Federation uses Belarus to carry out aggressive actions. But there is a position of the military in Belarus. And there is already fear and reluctance among them to carry out this order because they already see what’s happening here. The myth of the invincible Russian army is gradually crumbling among them. They are already beginning to realise that carrying out such an order is committing a war crime,” Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Anna Malyar said.

Our “NO means NO” campaign was launched to prevent Belarusian troops from entering Ukraine and Belarusian soldiers from being killed by Putin’s occupiers. We are glad that Ukraine supports us and is ready to help our military not to return to the army of Belarus, which has already become de facto Russian. Belarusians are not warlike people, we don’t want to go to war against our neighbours. But it so happens that two crazy dictators want to decide everything for us. We continue to fight for the Belarusian soldiers to stay at home. In the Sunday Stream on March 20, Olga Karach told us what to do for our guys who have already received subpoenas and are forced to go to Ukraine against their will: “Don’t expect to be drafted in the hope that you will escape to Ukraine. In Ukraine, you probably won’t run away anywhere. We have been talking to several governments, finding out what the status of men will be. This status will be specific – and it is clear now that Lithuania and Latvia will give political refugee status. In this situation you have to remember that you are not defectors, you are conscientious objectors. You do not want to fight in the Belarusian army for reasons of your conscience. You do not want to support the war that Putin and the Kremlin have unleashed. That is enough. The main thing is that you must have your documents with you”.

We hope that Belarusian troops will make the right decision and will not start a war in Ukraine. We must show that the Belarusians are not Lukashenko and his admirers, but sensible people who do not want to go to war against their neighbour.