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Intel Experts: Putin About to Call in Big Favor from Belarusian President

Wednesday marks the 28th day of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ill-advised invasion of Ukraine. His high hopes for a quick victory have ...

Wednesday marks the 28th day of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ill-advised invasion of Ukraine. His high hopes for a quick victory have faded as the war appears to have reached a stalemate.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has not revealed casualty numbers. However, for a six-hour period on Monday, the pro-Kremlin tabloid, Komsomolskaya Pravda, reported that 9,861 Russian troops have been killed and 16,153 injured so far.

According to Reuters, the paper was unaware the report had been published on its website. Once it was discovered, the story was quickly removed. The publication issued a statement saying their site had been hacked by a pro-Ukrainian group and that the casualty statistics were wildly inaccurate.

Correct or not, Putin cannot be pleased with his army’s lack of progress.

It’s being reported that Putin has called on Belarus to enter the war.

U.S. and NATO officials told CNN on Monday that it’s growing more and more “likely” that Belarus will join the war against its southern neighbor. One source said, “Putin needs support. Anything would help.”

“A Belarusian opposition source said that Belarusian combat units are ready to go into Ukraine as soon as in the next few days, with thousands of forces prepared to deploy. In this source’s view, this would have less of an impact militarily than it will geopolitically, given the implications of another country joining the war,” the report said.

From the get-go, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko allowed Russia to amass troops along the border and to launch attacks on Ukraine from his country. His government also altered its constitution in February “to allow the country to host both Russian forces and nuclear weapons permanently.” However, U.S. officials were quick to say that, so far, there is no evidence of nuclear weapon activity.

Still, the decision to actually participate in the fighting would take Belarus’ involvement to a new level.

A senior U.S. defense official told CNN they haven’t seen “any indications that the Belarusians are preparing to move in — into Ukraine — or that they have made any agreements to do that.”

The official noted, “It is not about what Lukashenko wants. The question is: Does Putin want another unstable country in the region? … Involvement would destabilize Belarus.”

The official told CNN that the final decision would be made by Moscow.

Given the political division within Belarus, joining the war doesn’t seem like a particularly wise decision on the part of Lukashenko, who has served as the country’s president since 1994.

Even before the debate over military involvement began, many Belarusians opposed their government’s cooperation with Putin. The report below says that Belarusian railway workers have “launched what they called ‘a railway war’ with many acts of sabotage to stop Russian equipment.”

So, why would a leader whose grasp on power is tenuous at best even consider sending troops to Ukraine to support Russia?

Well, it appears that Putin came to Lukashenko’s aid in 2020, and now, it’s payback time.

According to HotAir’s Allahpundit, Lukashenko rigged the 2020 presidential election, which led to widespread protests in Belarus.

He writes that Lukashenko “cracked down hard but the demonstrations destabilized Belarus’s economy. Who was it who came to his rescue at the time? Why, Vladimir Putin, of course, knowing that Lukashenko would eventually owe him a favor for doing so. That favor is now being called in. Lukashenko may have survived 2020 thanks to Putin, only to be brought to ruin by him in 2022.”

Can the Belarusian president really say no to Putin? If given a choice, he would likely decline. But his relationship with Putin would certainly go south in a hurry. And given the pecking order in the region, that would make life difficult.

The decision to send his troops into combat could spell the end of his presidency. Additionally, the U.S./NATO sanctions that are currently in place against Lukashenko and several other Belarusian officials would likely be expanded and, as HotAir describes it, could send Belarus into “economic oblivion.”

He has tried to persuade Putin to use his military in a “non-combat capacity, like logistical support,” according to the report. But this option could be extremely dangerous because “logistics have been Ukraine’s top target since the start of the war; by neutralizing Russia’s fuel trucks, they’ve effectively neutralized many of Russia’s combat vehicles, too.”

Finally, the HotAir article makes the point that such an escalatory move would give NATO a reason to ratchet up the pressure on Russia. They could increase the quantity of weapons sent to Ukraine and even send more sophisticated ones. “Now that Lukashenko’s participation is about to unbalance the scales, the West should feel free to rebalance them.”

The Belarusian leader is facing two bad options. Unfortunately, if CNN’s source is correct, the choice may not be his to make.

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