US analysts claim that Putin rigorously rebuffed two plans from Lukashenko
Created: 12/20/2022, 4:41 p.m
By: Patrick Mayer
Autocrats among themselves: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (left) and Moscow ruler Vladimir Putin.
© IMAGO/Pavel Bednyakov
Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko meet in Minsk.
According to one assessment, the Russian President will not get very far with his concerns.
Munich/Minsk - There was something contradictory about the location of the meeting.
When Alexander Lukashenko opened the Palace of Independence in autumn 2013, the autocratic ruler from Minsk emphasized that the huge building should become the main center of sovereign Belarus.
Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin: Really best friends in the Ukraine war?
So this is where Lukashenko met Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week, on whom he is completely dependent politically, economically and militarily.
Putin's presumed goal: to persuade Lukashenko to provide more military support in the Ukraine war.
After all, Ukraine fears a major Russian offensive in the new year.
Even small Moldova, also a former Soviet republic and located on the Romanian border, does not rule out a Russian attack.
This allegedly lets partner Putin ricochet off with his concerns.
At least that's what the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) writes in a recent analysis.
In the video: Compact - The most important news about the Russia-Ukraine war
According to the Washington-based think tank, Lukashenko refrained from publicly discussing the Ukraine war at the meeting.
In several places in the scientific paper, ISW confirms that this is a remote assessment.
Concrete sources for the thesis are not mentioned in the letter.
Conversely, the ISW has always been correct in its assessment of what happened in the war over the past few months.
For example, when it prophesied encirclement battles in the Donbass as a new tactic.
Alexander Lukashenko: Nato rhetoric so that Belarus is not drawn into the Ukraine war?
However, the analysts continue to write in their article that Lukashenko apparently uses the rhetoric that Belarus must secure its external borders against the West and the transatlantic defense alliance NATO "in order to avoid participating in the Russian invasion of Ukraine".
The ISW continues to assess that Belarus' participation in Putin's war remains unlikely.
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We don't interfere, we don't kill anyone, we don't send soldiers there.
Alexander Lukashenko on Ukraine
According to the article, Putin apparently accepted Lukashenko's arguments, while he persisted in his rhetoric.
The Russian President failed in Minsk with a second plan instead, writes the ISW.
Namely, to advance the political integration of Belarus into the Russian Federation.
To put this in context: When the war he forced to break out (February 24), Putin emphasized the supposedly historically grown unity between Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
Which Lukashenko never confirmed.
Vladimir Putin: Russia's president is obviously not getting anywhere in Belarus
What is striking is that Putin has now declared that "Russia is not interested in taking anyone in".
Lukashenko, on the other hand, had previously reaffirmed Belarusian independence and full sovereignty on December 16.
At the same time, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized that Moscow was not trying to press Minsk.
Peskov's statement, in turn, is classified by the ISW as an attempt to "cover up Putin's desperation at his apparent failure to drag Lukashenko into the war."
It is not Lukashenko's first no to Putin's Russia in recent weeks.
"If we get directly involved in this conflict with the armed forces, with soldiers, we're not contributing anything, we're only making it worse," the 68-year-old ruler said in response to questions from Russian journalists at the end of November, according to the Belta agency.
Alexander Lukashenko: Belarusian army probably too weak for Ukraine invasion
According to him, the Belarusian army, which has 35,000 to 40,000 men, will not solve the problem of this campaign for Russia.
"We don't interfere, we don't kill anyone, we don't send soldiers there because it's not necessary," Lukashenko said at the time.
Belarus supports Russia, but its role is different.
In the recent past, several military experts had seriously doubted whether the Belarusian army was even capable of attacking Ukraine from the north.
Above all, Gustav Gressel, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), repeatedly raised these doubts.
For example in interviews with ZDF.
Thus, the device of the Belarusian army is considered completely outdated.
Lukashenko's troops rely largely on old Soviet T-72 tanks, which proved to be extremely vulnerable to Western-style anti-tank weapons.
Alexander Lukashenko: Will he drop Vladimir Putin if necessary?
Meanwhile, Lukashenko had repeatedly brushed Putin off at the end of November.
At the Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODKB) summit in Yerevan, he apparently turned his back on the Russian president.
According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)
, he criticized
"hotheads" who would argue that the fate of the ODKB depended on the operation of the Russian Federation in Ukraine.