Thursday, June 29, 2017

Events in Ukraine Behind Minsk’s New Plan for Mass Mobilization in Belarus

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 29 – Minsk’s military plans, including the introduction of new rules that will allow it to mobilize the entire adult population of the country in case of need, are being developed by the Belarusian government on the basis of its analysis of what has gone right and wrong in Ukraine, according to Defense Minister Andrey Ravkov.

            Minsk’s focus on what has worked and not worked in Ukraine suggests that Belarus is more focused on the risk of Russian hybrid intervention than on working together with Russia in some sort of common military program of the now “more dead than alive” union state between the two (

            As the Belarusian parliament has approved changes in the country’s military law,  Ravkov says that he and his colleagues have been studying “the experience of our southern neighbor which, after rejecting short-term service, fell into a situation in which it had to carry out partial mobilization” (

            “In Ukraine, in the course of fulfilling partial mobilization, there were many problems,” he says; and Belarus has decided to avoid those by putting in place rules governing mass mobilization before it may be necessary, allowing the government to call to the colors almost all citizens between the ages of 18 and 65.

            Belarusian analysts, like Yegor Levedok of the Belarus Security Blog, point out that many of the features of these new arrangements are obviously “adapted to conditions of hybrid war” like the one Russia has been conducting against Ukraine and will thus allow the Belarusian military to “conduct operations analogous to the Ukrainian one without introducing martial law.”

            On the one hand, this latest Belarusian move reflects Minsk’s desire not to have a Russian base on its territory. It is a way of signaling to the Russians that such a facility isn’t necessary. But on the other, it is also likely to give pause to any Russian leader thinking about engaging in a hybrid war against Belarus.

            To be sure, the Russian military given its technological advantages could seize Belarus; but if the Belarusian population rises in armed revolt afterwards, Moscow would almost certainly be unable to hold it – and would suffer an ideological black eye internationally by having to engage in increasingly vicious punitive actions against the Belarusian nation.   

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