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Russian deserter about the first Belarusian strikes on Ukraine: Iskander missiles launched at 5 am

Russian deserter about the first Belarusian strikes on Ukraine: Iskander missiles launched at 5 am Iskander missile system (Getty Images)

The first Iskander missiles were launched from Belarusian territory as part of Russia's large-scale invasion in the early hours of February 24, 2022, at around 5 a.m., as a Russian deserter said to Novaya Gazeta Evropa.

According to the deserter, he was part of the Iskander brigade that participated in strikes on Ukrainian territory on the morning of February 24, with the missiles being launched from Belarusian soil. He had served as a contract operator in the missile unit of the Russian Armed Forces in Ulan-Ude. By the end of 2021, he was deployed to Belarus along with other soldiers. Initially, they were told it was for joint Russian-Belarusian military exercises, but rumors of war were already circulating. Upon arriving in Belarus, the military set up camp at one of the training grounds and stayed there for about a month.

"On the morning of February 24, around 5 a.m., the first launch was carried out. I saw how at first everything was painted red and the rocket flew up and flew somewhere to the south," said the deserter.

After the launch, a fellow soldier approached him and revealed that the war had begun. Most of his comrades supported the conflict and blamed the destruction of Ukrainian cities on "Kyiv's actions." The brigade had approximately 15 launcher units, and during their stay in Belarus, they fired around 80-90 missiles toward Ukraine.

Belarusian Hayun project collected separate pieces of evidence about the morning of February 24:

  • From 3:00 a.m. on 24/02, aviation began taking off from the airfield in the town of Velykyi Bokov.
  • At 5:50 a.m., shots and explosions were heard in the area of the Komaryne checkpoint.
  • The first missile launch from Belarusian territory was recorded at 06:20 a.m. from the Khoysynskyi district.
  • During the day, Alexander Lukashenko, in a meeting with the military, stated, "We won't justify whether we are involved or not in this conflict. I repeat: our troops are not there. But if necessary, if it is required by Belarus and Russia, they will be."

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, at least 721 missiles have been launched from Belarusian territory.