The commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko to discuss the involvement of Belarus’ forces in the war in Ukraine.
Lt. Gen. Serhii Naev, who has led the Ukrainian army since March 2020, noted that Putin and Lukashenko would likely talk about expanding Belarus’ role in the war by working out a possible ground operation.
“Recently, the head of the Kremlin held an official meeting with the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, during which, as he personally noted, he considered the proposals of the military command for the near and medium-term prospects. Immediately after that, he planned a meeting with the leadership of the Republic of Belarus, which will take place soon,” Naev said in a video posted on the Facebook page of the Command of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as translated by Ukrainska Pravda.
“In our opinion, during this meeting, issues of further aggression against Ukraine and greater involvement of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus in the operation against Ukraine will be worked out, in particular, in our opinion, on land,” the commander added.
Putin will be traveling to Belarus on Monday, Dec. 19, to hold one-on-one talks with his ally Lukashenko. Minsk also said the pair will have wider negotiations with their ministers on integration, as reported by the Kyiv Post.
The visit will be the Russian leader’s first trip to Belarus in more than three years. It will also be his first visit to Minsk after Russian forces launched the invasion of Ukraine in February from several directions, including Belarusian territory.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine was “preparing for all possible defense scenarios” in the war, including the possible involvement of Belarusian forces.
“Protection of the border with both Russia and Belarus is also a constant priority,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address. “Whoever inclines Minsk to whatever, it will not help them just as any other sick idea in this war against Ukraine and Ukrainians.”
Russia is currently conducting “intensive combat training” for many of its troops in Belarus.