Keep An Eye On Ukraine’s Military Buildup Along The Belarusian Border


Ukraine’s potential Belarusian operation appears predicated on Kiev’s calculation that Russia might overreact in some way that prompts the conventional NATO intervention that Zelensky is hoping for or redirects troops from the existing front lines to this new one and thus creates an opening to exploit.

Belarusian and Russian media have been flooded with reports over the past few days about newfound tensions along the Ukrainian-Belarusian border caused by Ukraine’s alleged military buildup there:

* “Drone flying from Ukraine deep into Belarus shot down by border service

* “Stash with improvised explosive device parts found at Belarusian-Ukrainian border

* “Belarusian army deploys MLRS Polonez squadron to cover sections of state border

* “Passages open to sabotage, reconnaissance forces in minefields on Ukraine side of Belarusian border

* “Defense Ministry on provocations at Ukraine border: Ready to use all forces to defend Belarus

* “Additional forces deployed to detect drones at Belarusian-Ukrainian border

* “Belarusian military warns of rising tensions on border with Ukraine

* “All kinds of measures taken to contain complicated situation at Belarus’ southern border

* “Belarusian air defenses register increased number of Ukrainian drones

These follow Belarus’ concerns over the past year since the start of Kiev’s ultimately failed counteroffensive that it might soon be directly attacked by Ukraine and/or NATO:

* 25 May 2023: “NATO Might Consider Belarus To Be ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ During Kiev’s Upcoming Counteroffensive

* 1 June 2023: “The Union State Expects That The NATO-Russian Proxy War Will Expand

* 14 June 2023: “Lukashenko Strongly Hinted That He Expects Belgorod-Like Proxy Incursions Against Belarus

* 14 December 2023: “Belarus Is Bracing For Belgorod-Like Terrorist Incursions From Poland

* 19 February 2024: “The Western-Backed Foreign-Based Belarusian Opposition Is Plotting Territorial Revisions

* 21 February 2024: “Is The West Plotting A False Flag Provocation In Poland To Blame On Russia & Belarus?

* 26 April 2024: “Analyzing Belarus’ Claim Of Recently Thwarting Drone Attacks From Lithuania

These aforementioned developments coincide with rising NATO-Russian tensions as the West intensifies their proxy war in Ukraine out of desperation to achieve some sort of strategic victory despite the odds:

* 24 May: “The US Is Now More Openly Allowing Ukraine To Use Its Arms To Strike Inside Of Russia

* 26 May: “The US Is Playing A Dangerous Game Of Nuclear Chicken With Russia

* 30 May: “Putin Expects NATO, And Possibly Poland In Particular, To Escalate The Proxy War In Ukraine

* 31 May: “Is Ukraine Going Rogue Or Did It Attack Russia’s Early Warning Systems With American Approval?

* 11 June: “Kiev’s Plan To Store F-16s In NATO States Raises The Risk Of World War III

* 15 June: “The US’ Security Pact With Ukraine Is A Consolation For Not Approving Its NATO Membership

* 16 June: “Duda’s Call For ‘Decolonizing’ Russia Proved That Putin Was Right To Warn About This Plot

* 21 June: “More Air Defenses & Cross-Border Strikes Won’t Change The Ukrainian Conflict’s Dynamics

* 27 June: “The US’ Reported PMC Plan For Ukraine Amounts To A Partial Conventional Intervention

* 28 June: “The ‘EU Defense Line’ Is The Latest Euphemism For The New Iron Curtain

All the aforementioned insight will now be summarized for the reader’s convenience before analyzing the significance of Ukraine’s alleged military buildup along the Belarusian border.

In brief, Russia has already won the “race of logistics”/“war of attrition” with NATO, being so far ahead that it’s now producing three times as many shells as that bloc at a quarter of the cost. Russia is therefore poised to achieve a military breakthrough across the front lines, which its fresh push into Ukraine’s Kharkov Region is expected to facilitate by stretching the defender’s forces even further. In that event, however, NATO might conventionally intervene in order to asymmetrically partition Ukraine.

The reason why this escalation sequence is so dangerous is because Russia might fear that any large-scale NATO invasion force that potentially crosses the Dnieper could be preparing to attack its new regions. The NATO-Russian security dilemma is so serious right now as a result of the previously enumerated escalations that such intentions couldn’t confidently be ruled out if that happens. Russia might therefore resort to tactical nukes as a last resort out of self-defense, ergo its recent drills.

President Putin would prefer for that dark scenario not to unfold, which his why he recently shared a generous ceasefire proposal in an attempt to avert it. Ukraine predictably refused to withdraw from the administrative borders of Russia’s new regions like he requested and is instead reportedly building up its forces along the Belarusian border in preparation of a possible offensive. While President Putin remains open to compromise, Zelensky clearly remains recalcitrant, likely due to fears about his political future.

Ukraine’s potential Belarusian operation appears predicated on Kiev’s calculation that Russia might overreact in some way that prompts the conventional NATO intervention that Zelensky is hoping for or redirects troops from the existing front lines to this new one and thus creates an opening to exploit. The first could occur if it resorts to tactical nukes as a last resort in self-defense or launches another offensive from Belarus, the latter of which La Repubblica reported in early May would trigger a NATO intervention.

As for the second dimension of Kiev’s risky calculation, policymakers might expect significant on-the-ground gains that could force Russia to prioritize this new front over the existing ones, thus relieving enormous pressure upon Ukraine. In that event, it could exploit whatever openings might emerge to go back on the offensive along the eastern and/or southern fronts, which could conveniently occur before the next NATO Summit from 9-11 July and thus provide a major boost to Western morale.

This gamble could also fail and tremendously backfire on Ukraine, however, such as if Russia does indeed soon make a military breakthrough along the front lines and then steamrolls through the rest of its new regions precisely because Kiev misallocated so many of its forces to the Belarusian border. Furthermore, even though NATO might conventionally intervene in its support, Ukraine could lose a lot more land east of the Dnieper if the bloc stays on the western bank in order to manage its security dilemma with Russia.

At the same time, it’s also possible that Western intelligence identified a serious weak point somewhere along the Belarusian border and told Ukraine to exploit it, in which case this gamble might at least partially pay off. It’s premature to predict its success or lack thereof either way, but in any case, observers would do well to keep a close eye on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border since Kiev’s military buildup appears to be something serious and not just a feint to “psyche-out” Russia.

Source: author’s blog

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