Russian and Belarusian dictators met in Minsk. They allegedly discussed economic cooperation, and Lukashenko stated the “need for dialogue with the West.” Russian propaganda media reported this.
Based on the two rulers’ statements, the main goal was to appeal to the Western states and ask for peace talks with them. Moscow and its puppet regime in Minsk understood that the invasion had failed and that Russian troops could not succeed in the war against Ukraine.
Now they might be trying to pressure the West, which supports Ukraine with weapons and attempt to convince them that peace at any cost is needed.
Thus, the self-proclaimed President of Belarus, Lukashenko, said, “Belarus and Russia find common answers to threats.” Lukashenko appealed to the West and called to “listen to the voice of reason and resume a security dialogue with Russia.”
The self-proclaimed Belarusian president also spoke about the consequences of sanctions and the need for cooperation with Russia, the aggressor state in the war, to “provide the benefits of its citizens.”
The office of the President of Ukraine and the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine believes that the primary purpose of Putin’s visit to Minsk is to persuade Lukashenko to enter the war against Ukraine in terms of ground operation on Ukrainian soil.
Another worrying sign, on the day of Putin’s visit, the Belarusian Defense Ministry announced the completion of a surprise inspection of the combat and mobilization readiness of the Belarussian army, which had been conducted on Lukashenko’s order since December 6.
On February 24, Belarus did join the war – Russian troops invaded Ukraine from its territory. The territory of Belarus has also been used for missile attacks on Ukraine, and Russia used Belarusian infrastructure for the war against Ukraine.
However, the armed forces of Belarus did not directly engage in a land operation under their flag.
Statements made by Putin and Lukashenko
Russian President Putin said during the talks that the meeting was “very productive,” and the self-proclaimed president of Belarus noted that people “will appreciate the decisions that have been made here today and the strategy.”
In particular, during a press conference following the talks, which lasted more than two and a half hours, Putin said that Russia and Belarus had agreed to continue the practice of joint military exercises and create new military equipment.
He also said that Moscow and Minsk agreed to train the crews of combat aircraft of the Belarusian army, which have already been re-equipped “for the possible use of airborne munitions with a special warhead.”
Did Putin trypersuade Belarus to join the war againt Ukraine?
Looking at the tense situation in Ukraine, some experts guess what was left behind the scenes of the meeting. This news is not new to them; the background is that Belarus accepts mobilized Russians for training and attacks Ukraine with missiles from its territory.
In particular, the commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Serhiy Nayev, believes that Putin in Minsk will encourage Lukashenko to send troops to Ukraine.
“In our opinion, during this meeting, the issues of further aggression against Ukraine and wider involvement of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus in operation against Ukraine, in particular, in our opinion, on land, will be worked out,” said Serhiy Nayev.
Named three reasons why Putin flew to Minsk
There are three issues that Putin can solve with Lukashenko today. The first is the entry of Belarus into the war on the side of Russia against Ukraine. The second is the permission for Russian troops to attack Ukraine from the territory of Belarus because, once again, I draw your attention to the fact that for several months there have been no arrivals from the Belarusian airspace,” – Military expert Oleg Zhdanov stated.
In addition, according to Oleg Zhdanov, during the talks, Putin will persuade Lukashenko not to withdraw Belarus from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
“The agenda is banal: maximum support by Belarus for the offensive in any form. It can be information campaigns, training activities, or even a land invasion,” said Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of the presidential office.
He said during the national telethon that Lukashenko “will sign his suicide note” by direct participation in the war.
At the same time, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the reports that Putin is going to Minsk to persuade Belarus to military actions in Ukraine “stupid and groundless.”
The Institute for War Studies gives its assumptions
In the report, analysts of the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assumed that during the visit, Putin would put pressure on the President of Belarus to achieve concessions on the integration of the two countries, as well as to create conditions for a new offensive against Ukraine.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko likely deflected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to coerce Belarus into further Russian-Belarusian integration concessions during a meeting in Minsk on December 19.
Putin and Lukashenko refrained from publicly discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with both leaders noting that Belarus still faces a Western threat.
Putin announced that he might consider training Belarusian combat aviation crews to use “munitions with special warheads” due to the “escalating” situation on the Union State’s external borders as a result of Ukrainians protecting their borders.
ISW has previously assessed that Lukashenko uses the rhetoric of defending Belarusian borders against the West and NATO to avoid participating in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Lukashenko had also used similar hints about the possible deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus on February 17 in the context of claimed Western aggression.
Lukashenko noted that Russia would deliver S-400 air defense complexes and Iskander complexes, while Putin stated that both leaders discussed the formation of a united defense space.
ISW continues to assess that Belarus’ participation in Putin’s war against Ukraine remains unlikely. The fact that Putin appears to have accepted Lukashenko’s talking points without persuading Lukashenko to adjust them indirectly supports this assessment.
Lukashenko would likely adjust his rhetoric to create some plausible explanation to his people about why he was suddenly turning away from the fictitious NATO invasion threat he has manufactured to join Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine.
Close relations between dictators
While the United States, the European Union, and other Western countries refused to recognize Lukashenko’s election victory, Putin was one of the first to congratulate him and soon announced that he was ready to send Russian security forces to Belarus to suppress the protests.
On September 14, 2020, Lukashenko flew to Sochi for a one-on-one meeting with Putin. As a result of the talks, it became known that Russia would provide Belarus with a loan of $ 1.5 billion.
In 2022, Lukashenko’s visits became more frequent. He came to Russia on February 18, a few days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and then six more times.
What are the consequences of the negotiations?
Currently, Belarus is not a direct participant in Russia’s full-scale war, but it provides logistical support to the Russian invasion.
In particular, it provides Russian troops access to the territory of Belarus, from where Russian forces carry out combat sorties to bomb Ukrainian cities, as well as launch missiles at the part of Ukraine.
Therefore, as long as the presidents cooperate, there is a threat from both countries as they use their resources to destroy peaceful people and civilian objects.