Belarus deploying troops near Ukraine complicates Kyiv strategy: British intelligence

British intelligence officials said on Monday that Belarus had deployed special operations forces on the Ukrainian border, complicating Kyiv’s military strategy, even though Russia’s Eastern European allies were not directly involved in the conflict.

“The presence of Belarusian troops near the border may fix Ukrainian troops so they cannot be deployed to support operations in Donbass,” the British Ministry of Defence tweeted in a daily update.

After suffering losses around Kyiv and elsewhere in the first weeks of the invasion, which began on February 24, Russia is focusing its attacks on the Donbas region in the east.

The British Foreign Office said that despite “early speculation”, Belarus did not directly join the fray, despite early advances in Kyiv and Chernihiv by the Russians using their territory. Russia also fired missiles from Belarus.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is often referred to as Europe’s “last dictator” and is seen as a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

For now, Mr Lukashenko “may be balancing support for a Russian invasion with a desire to avoid direct military involvement with the risk of Western sanctions, Ukrainian retaliation and possible dissatisfaction with the Belarusian army,” the Foreign Office wrote.

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