Russian Military Transfers to Belarus Reignite Ukraine Attack Fears

Belarusian railways are being prepared to transport Moscow’s military equipment, sparking questions about the intentions of Vladimir Putin’s ally, Alexander Lukashenko, and what role the country he rules might play in the war in Ukraine.

Lukashenko has relied on the Russian leader to maintain his presidency of Belarus while both avoiding a more direct involvement in the war in Ukraine and allowing Belarusian territory to be used as a launching pad for Putin’s aggression.

The Community of Railway Workers of Belarus, which opposes Lukashenko’s regime in Minsk, reported an increase in measures for Russian military personnel and equipment to be moved between the countries.

“Carefully concealed signs of preparation for the military transportation on Belarusian railways between Russia and Belarus have been revealed,” the group said on Telegram on Wednesday.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin welcomes Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko prior to the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow on May 9, 2024. Belarusian railways are reportedly being prepared for the transfer of Russian military…


The Belarusian Hajun Project, an independent group which monitors military activity in Belarus, wrote on Telegram, “will the equipment of the (Russian) Armed Forces be transferred to Belarus again?”

“Among other things, echelons from the occupied territories of Ukraine can also be transferred to Belarus,” the post added, noting how “measures are already being taken to ensure the secrecy of these military transportations.”

It referred to its revelation in February that in 2025, major military exercises will be held in Belarus amid plans to transfer some of Russia’s military to the country by rail. The countries have been holding joint military exercises since 2009 but these were cancelled in 2023.

“We have already had cases when such preparations for transportation were announced and then nothing followed, but there could be something bigger here,” Franak Viačorka, senior advisor to opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, told Newsweek.

“Our primary version is that they are ahead of drills closer to the border of Poland and Lithuania, but it could also be nothing. We are monitoring it closely,” he said.

Another possibility is that it could precede the deployment of additional Russian troops either near the border with Ukraine or by its border with the West, he said. It could also be in response to Minsk condemning German and U.S. battalions gathering at a site in NATO member Lithuania, close to the Belarusian border.

Anti-Western rhetoric from Lukashenko and Putin “is very aggressive right now,” Viačorka said, adding that the latest move “could be also part of a psychological operation to pressure the West before a peace summit in Switzerland for Ukraine.”

It could also aim “to consolidate his own supporters against an enemy, but also to show his loyalty to Putin.”

Lukashenko insisted last month “there will be no such need” to join the war and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said “we do not see any plans” of a new Russian offensive coming from Belarus.

However, there have been signals of a closer alignment between Moscow and Minsk, following the stationing of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus and a deal signed in January cementing closer economic ties.

Belarusian railways are a key component of Russia’s war infrastructure, both as a conduit for military resources and as a scene of acts of resistance, such as the sabotage attacks by partisan groups which delayed Moscow’s troops.

Meanwhile, Viačorka noted how the war in Ukraine is deeply unpopular in Belarus, “so any open escalation and militarization or attempt to mobilize Belarussians in the army can face huge resistance from the people.”

Newsweek has contacted the Belarusian foreign ministry for comment.