By Paul Goble
Franak Vyachorka, an opposition Belarusian journalist, says that Lukashenka would be endangering his ability to remain in power if he ordered the Belarusian army into Ukraine because most of his army is not that loyal to him and does not see a reason to get involved in Russia’s war there.
Except for about 2,000 troops in units the Belarusian dictator has used against demonstrators and that have sworn personal loyalty to him, most of the regular army not only isn’t especially loyal but is openly hostile to Russian forces and the idea of a campaign in Ukraine, he continues (nv.ua/opinion/lukashenko-uhodit-v-otstavku-kto-vozglavit-belarus-poslednie-novosti-50282437.html).
If an order came to advance, Vyachorka says, they would drag their feet “with a partisan Belarusian spirit,” effectively undermining the order and Lukashenka in turn. As a result, he says, “the Lukashenka regime may collapse even sooner than the Putin regime.” Lukashenka is aware of this and thus will resist Moscow and its efforts to involve Belarus in the war.
According to the opposition journalist, the democratic forces of Belarus have their own contacts in the military just as they do “in every ministry and in every agency” of the Belarusian state. When the system begins to collapse, they are ready to prevent things from disintegrating into chaos.
There is little doubt that in that event, there will be major problems with Russian forces, but “our partisan plan” against such an intervention can work because “we consider that not all those Belarusians who came out into the streets in 2020 have left and that we can count on their support at this critical moment.”
Of course, there is a risk if the Lukashenka regime collapses before Putin’s, Moscow may seek to take control of the situation and install its own man in place of the current dictator. “For us, this is the most dangerous variant.” But we operate in the belief that “there is no more pro-Russian figure in Belarus than Lukashenka.”
Putin whose own regime is weakening won’t be able to lend a hand to Lukashenka or install someone he’d prefer all that easily, and that too works against the possibility that the current Belarusian dictator will take the risk of ordering the army to do something many if not most of its officers don’t want to do.