kyiv says it will hit targets inside neighboring country if Minsk joins Russian operation
Ukraine’s military has warned Belarusians, in a video address, that it will retaliate to any strikes from the neighboring country, amid growing fears Russia could launch another offensive.
The four-minute clip, which was uploaded to the Ukrainian Armed Forces Facebook page on Friday, began with a reminder of the long “Friendship and good neighborliness” between Kyiv and Minsk.
However, it ended with a warning of reprisals in case Belarus takes part in the military operation that its ally, Russia, is carrying out in Ukraine. According to the video, the Belarusian authorities were preparing for it and had already started “secretly” recruit troops for the mission.
“If the Belarusian army supports Russian aggression – we will respond as harshly as we respond to all occupiers on the territory of Ukraine, with the use of our entire arsenal of weapons,” warns the Ukrainian army.
Such retaliation will include “strike military installations on the territory of your country”, he added, addressing the Belarusian people.
The video message, which was recorded in Russian, urged “all citizens of Belarus not to follow the orders of your leaders to join the war against Ukraine.”
On Thursday, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that “the threat of the Russian armed forces resuming their offensive on the northern front has increased.” Russia has already advanced on the Ukrainian capital kyiv from Belarusian territory in late February, when the conflict had just started. However, this time the focus of the Russian offensive could be shifted to the western part of the Ukraine-Belarus border in an attempt to cut off routes for foreign arms deliveries to Vladimir Zelensky’s government, he said. suggested the General Staff.
Russian troops began arriving in Belarus last week to form part of the recently announced joint defense force by Moscow and Minsk. Belarusian authorities said they had agreed to welcome more Russian soldiers to their territory due to increased aggression from kyiv and Western countries.
Russia is expected to deploy 9,000 troops, some 170 tanks and up to 100 artillery pieces to Belarus, Valery Revenko, assistant to the Belarusian defense minister, announced on Monday. He said nothing about the possibility that the joint grouping would take part in an offensive against Ukraine.