Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to travel to Belarus today to meet with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko. Putin and
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to travel to Belarus today to meet with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Putin and Lukashenko are expected to discuss bilateral military cooperation. Although Belarus has not yet formally entered the war in neighboring Ukraine, Lukashenko allowed Russian troops to invade Ukraine from Belarus in February. The meeting comes amid speculation that Russia is preparing to reopen a second front against Ukraine given recent Belarussian military drills near the Ukraine-Belarus border.
Although joint military drills were used as a pretext to cover troop movements ahead of the February invasion, the drills on the border now are of a smaller scale and unilateral. Given Russia’s largely stalemated ground progress on the war’s eastern front, Putin is unlikely to open a new front in the short term. The visit, however, is likely intended to stoke concerns that Russia is intending to reopen the northern Ukraine front, to the effect of diverting Ukrainian military resources from the east for defensive purposes. Kyiv is expected to divert resources both as a precautionary measure and because it believes a new attack is credible.
In the medium term, expect Putin and his military advisors to continue relying on targeted missile strikes, re-evaluating its ground campaign strategy in the east and considering the benefits of diversifying its military operations.