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Putin's backbone. How Belarus aiding Russia in war against Ukraine

Putin's backbone. How Belarus aiding Russia in war against Ukraine Lukashenko's regime is a key partner of Putin in the war against Ukraine (photo: GettyImages)

The Belarusian military-industrial complex is assisting in meeting the needs of the Russian army on the front lines. How and why Lukashenko's regime became one of the key allies in the war for the Kremlin is explained in the material by RBC-Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the large-scale aggression, Belarus has become a key ally of Russia in conducting military operations against Ukraine. On the night of February 24, 2022, occupying forces invaded the territory of Kyiv region from Belarusian border regions. At the beginning of hostilities, Moscow fought with Belarusian shells, delivered by Belarusian trucks for Belarusian armored vehicles.

Within the first seven months of the full-scale war, according to the Belarusian Hajun project, Alexander Lukashenko transferred over 65 thousand tons of ammunition, hundreds of T-72A tanks, BMPs, and Ural trucks to Russia. Only when Belarusian depots were depleted due to Putin's appetites, other countries, primarily Iran and North Korea, have become the main suppliers of ready-made weapons for Russia. However, military assistance from Belarus to Russia did not diminish but rather increased.

Despite the Kremlin's efforts to significantly increase the production volumes of weapons through its industrial capacities, the Russian military-industrial complex still cannot keep up with the pace of frontline expenditure. What is lacking is often covered by Belarus.

Belarus lends a hand

The Belarusian defense industry has not changed much since Soviet times. There, large military enterprises with a full production cycle were not built due to the proximity to the borders with Western countries. Instead, a significant number of so-called "auxiliary" plants were located, which produced and still produce optical devices, targeting complexes, radio-electronic equipment, fire control systems, specialized wheeled vehicles, etc. They also carry out repair and modernization of weapons and equipment. Russia utilizes the full range of services from the Belarusian military-industrial complex, but the key assistance lies in the restoration of military equipment damaged as a result of combat actions.

Documents provided by sources in special services

Back in 2022, at the beginning of full-scale aggression, 60% of Belarusian military goods were destined for the Russian market. Today, this figure has increased even more. Currently, 120 Belarusian plants and design bureaus are involved in the production of 1,600 types of military products and services for the Russian Federation. In contrast, 940 Russian enterprises supply about 4,000 items to 67 Belarusian military enterprises. There is no other sphere where cooperation between these countries is as close as in the military sector.

Moreover, analysis of open sources suggests that the production of the Belarusian military-industrial complex is increasing. The number of vacancies is constantly increasing in enterprises, many plants are starting to operate in three shifts. For example, additional staff is being sought at the "Zenit-BelOMO" enterprise, which produces military optics, the number of vacancies at Minsk Wheeled Tractor Plant (MZKT) has doubled, additional personnel are also being sought at AGAT-Control Systems, OJSC, 558 Aircraft Repair Plant, OJSC, Orsha Aircraft Repair Plant, OJSC.

Documents provided by sources in special services

The limit on increasing the number of employees in Belarusian military enterprises is practically absent today due to the constant increase in orders from Russia. Quite often, the orders are so large that the enterprise cannot fulfill them with existing capacities and is forced to either expand production or postpone orders for the future. According to reports, the Sphere Optical Plant of the Minsk Mechanical Plant named after I. V. Vavilov (MMZ) was forced to postpone the execution of an order for the next year due to a high workload, while Peleng, OJSC, which produced Sosna-U sighting devices for the Russian army, announced plans to build two new buildings for expanding production.

A move against Lukashenko?

The Belarusian defense industry has also switched to military rails today. Hundreds of thousands of workers are employed in the plants, who simply cannot be unaware of where the products they manufacture are going. However, military enterprises are perhaps the only sphere where one can earn a more or less decent salary in Belarus. Whether Belarusians like the fact that the products they manufacture are used to kill Ukrainians is questionable. Perhaps not.

According to information published in Ukrainian media, the 558 Aircraft Repair Plant in Baranovichi continues to work on the restoration of Mi-8/Mi-17 military helicopters. In their material, journalists referred to technical documentation, reports, and contracts of the plant. Interestingly, a "fairly high-ranking" employee of the Belarusian KGB (state security committee) handed over secret documents to Ukrainian special services. It can be assumed that such a step by the Belarusian KGB officer was a reaction to a statement by the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko about his intention to run for the presidency in 2025. It seems that not only ordinary citizens but also servants of the regime have begun to speak out against the Belarusian dictator.

Documents provided by sources in special services

The leak of these secret documents is an extremely significant moment. It is unlikely that it could have been an individual initiative given that the Belarusian KGB typically operates as a unified system. Perhaps even Lukashenko has begun to feel distrust toward his security forces. Recently, he stated that he expects an attempted coup d'état to occur before or during the elections. With the Belarusian opposition either in prison or abroad, it poses practically no threat to the regime. Could Lukashenko have meant his security forces when speaking about the future coup attempt?

Since the beginning of the war, Lukashenko has sided with the aggressor. And as long as Russia wages war, Belarus will continue to assist it - whether with its own soldiers or at least in the realm of defense. There is a considerable list of components necessary for Putin's army that are manufactured in Belarus only. Therefore, Belarusian defense should also become a subject of careful attention and international sanctions for Ukraine and its Western partners, to prevent it from accessing foreign technologies and goods for war.