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Lukashenko, War, and Russia's Plans. Latushka: He Already Knows what he is Preparing for, it was Similar before the Invasion in 2022

Alexander Lukashenko listened to the reports of the military in uniform. Photo: screenshot from the video
Lukashenko listened to the reports of the military in uniform. Photo: screenshot from the video

Unofficial translation

"We are not focused enough on Lukashenko as a problem, and this may have disastrous consequences," warns Pavel Latushka, deputy of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. He also highlighted the lack of a coherent strategy from the West towards Belarus, in contrast to Russia's clear intentions in the region. "The pro-democratic majority in Belarus may be shrinking (…). And without adequately addressing the 'Belarusian problem’, peace in the region would remain elusive," he said.

  • “In contrast to Russia, the West lacks a comprehensive strategy towards Belarus. The Western powers should develop a strategy that aligns with the pro-democratic majority within Belarus. However, the time is of the essence, as this majority may diminish over time,” Latushka stressed.

  • Recently, Aleksandr Lukashenko has been increasingly alluding to the possibility of war, hinting that it may be inevitable. For instance, during a visit to Grodno in early April, he declared that “Belarus was preparing for war” while simultaneously asserting that his country did not seek conflict.


Since the spring of 2022, Belarus has been conducting continuous military exercises, and in March, a combat readiness test was announced for the Belarusian army.

Pavel Latushka, Vice-Prime Minister of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s government and the head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, shared his thoughts on these developments and the implications of Lukashenko's statements with He was asked whether these signals should be a cause for concern, whether they might be mere bluffs, or is there a bit of both.

"Lukashenko is preparing for war. These are his words, and his actions confirm it. In my opinion, Lukashenko knows when war will come to Belarus. This is what his last statement means — Pavel Latushka told the portal when asked about the latest statements of the Belarusian dictator.

Latushka also recalled Lukashenko's prior knowledge of the planned aggression against Ukraine, which was also launched from Belarusian territory.

“Lukashenko had discussed the impending war during a meeting in Vitebsk on December 15, 2021, two months before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. He had remarked that "no war has spared us in the past or will miss us now. God forbid it breaks out." Just a month prior to that statement, Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin had signed an updated military doctrine for the so-called Union State, establishing a joint Regional Group of Troops comprising Belarusian and Russian forces. Two months after Lukashenko's statement on December 15, 2021, a full-scale war against Ukraine began, with the Lukashenko regime providing the territory of Belarus to Russia and thus becoming a co-aggressor.”

The adoption of the new military doctrine of the Union State of Russia and Belarus was announced during a meeting of the Supreme Council of the Union State of Belarus and Russia on November 4, 2021. The document's text was published in February of the following year.

Latushka emphasized that Lukashenko's prior knowledge and preparations for the Ukrainian invasion should serve as a cautionary example. He urged the international community to recognize that Lukashenko likely possesses similar foresight regarding future events and is making corresponding preparations.

As Pavel Latushka pointed out, Lukashenko knew what would happen and was preparing for it. “It’s a similar situation now, so we should assume that Lukashenko already knows what will happen and is also preparing for that,” the former ambassador noted.

As Latushka recalled, Russian troops attacked Kyiv and other areas of Ukraine from Belarus, but Minsk did not experience any retaliatory attacks. The oppositionist believes that Lukashenko is concerned that his actions may lead to armed retaliation this time.

"The only thing he was wrong about before was Ukraine's reaction. Ukraine decided, taking into account its national interest, not to respond to blows and not to transfer the war to the territory of Belarus. Of course, the West didn't want that either. So how should we understand Lukashenko's new, or rather not so new, statement today?

“In this case, his words should be taken literally. He is really preparing for war, just like in December 2021.”

“Moreover, just like then, he definitely knows when it will happen, and he knows that no one will tolerate another aggression from the territory of Belarus. It will be the second time, but this time there will be military retaliation. That's why Lukashenko says he is preparing for war, and that's why he talks about it to society," notes Pavel Latushka.

Lukashenko follows Putin's order

"Lukashenko knows that war may come to Belarus, just like in February 2022. He does not intend to do anything to prevent this war. As then, he obediently follows the Kremlin's orders. Both then and now, he is not the master of the house but a puppet who will do whatever Mr. Putin demands," Pavel Latushka noted.

The oppositionist emphasizes that Lukashenka has long made Belarus dependent on Russia, including economically. 

"The Lukashenko regime has been living on borrowed money for decades and has been fed by Russian hands for decades. This did not happen after 2020; it has always been like this. It was only thanks to Russia's support that he stayed in power after losing the 2020 elections, and Belarus is paying a terrible price for it. His actions have already led Belarus to almost lose its independence and violated international law by allowing acts of aggression from its territory. And now his actions may escalate the war that is on the country's doorstep," warns the former ambassador.

Lukashenko changed the legislation

Pavel Latushka also assesses that a number of factors may indicate preparations for a possible war.

"Let's look at what has been happening in Belarus recently. Several directions can be indicated here. First of all, Lukashenko is changing the legislation. Acts that may be important in war conditions are being changed," Pavel Latushka explains. 

Pavel Latushka has given several examples, "New laws were introduced, for example on military volunteers ('On People's Militia'). The death penalty for betraying the regime has been introduced for military officers and officials Lukashenko is afraid that the military may not obey his order. He altered the military regulations, granting soldiers the right to shoot at civilians without repercussions," Pavel Latushka said.

These are just a few examples. Recently, Lukashenko has also signed a law enabling conscription via SMS and allowing convicted individuals to serve under contract if he deems it necessary. 

Additionally, the defense budget has increased by 29 percent, with a corresponding increase in local defense budgets.

According to Pavel Latushka, in addition to adapting legislation to a possible war situation, Lukashenko is increasing military resources and buying new weapons. "The defense budget has been increased by 29 percent, with a corresponding increase in local defense budgets," he said.

“On October 23, 2023, the annex to the draft budget bill stated that Minsk would allocate 3,577,196,311 Belarusian rubles ($1.1 billion) for defense. Belarus's planned budget expenditure on national defense for 2023 amounts to 2.77 billion Belarusian rubles ($0.85 billion). This represents a 29.2 percent increase in this amount," reports the media. The TASS agency additionally added that "in 2023, the expenditure of the Minsk budget on national defense increased one and a half times compared to 2022."

Defense line along the border

Latushka mentions the construction of defense lines in the Gomel, Brest, and Grodno regions of Belarus. 

In June 2023, reports emerged stating that fortifications were being constructed near the village of Saki in the Brest Oblast. This information was provided by various sources, including Belaruski Hajun Telegram channel.

Prior to this, independent media had disclosed the construction of fortifications, measuring approximately 2 kilometers in length, in the Gomel Oblast. These fortifications were referred to as the Khrenin Line, named after the Belarusian Minister of Defense.

There is limited information available regarding the size, purpose, and other details of these structures.

"These are special infrastructure solutions that will enable long-term survival without ammunition and food supplies. It's not about someone deciding to commit aggression against Belarus. He is considering a situation in which there might be a response against the regime as a result of aggression involving Belarus against Ukraine or NATO. In such a situation, he would rely on the defensive infrastructure he has created," says Pavel Latushka.

Expansion of military bases

The oppositionist also revealed that Lukashenko is establishing several new military bases in Belarus.

"These include combat training centers, such as the joint military exercise center of Russia and Belarus in Grodno, located near the border with Poland. Russian troops have also arrived in Baranovichi. There are centers related to air defense, which are intended for aviation purposes as well.

"He has established two additional military aviation bases in Luniniec, near the border with Ukraine in the Brest region. There is also a base in Ziabrouka, in the Gomel region, right on the border with Ukraine. These bases are used for military aviation and anti-aircraft defense. Furthermore, the 'mixed' military base of Mochulischi near Minsk, which serves as an aviation and anti-aircraft defense base, is being expanded," stated Mr. Latushka.

In January 2023, Lukashenko made the decision to create a new anti-aircraft regiment in Luniniec near the border with Ukraine. The decision to establish the joint exercise center in Grodno was made in Moscow on March 5, 2021. Baranovichi, Ziabrouka, and Mochulischi are also locations where Russian troops have been deployed.

"If Lukashenko only wanted to create the appearance of preparations, would it make sense to invest such huge funds and change legislation?” The answer, according to Pavel Latushka, is that these are not mere appearances but real preparations for war.

In addition, continuous military exercises have been taking place in Belarus since spring 2022.


The oppositionist highlighted the intensification of propaganda as the third factor indicating Lukashenko's plans.

It is likely that this propaganda narrative is being developed with the assistance of advisors from Russia.

"The third factor is propaganda. Independent media in Belarus have been dismantled. Lukashenko, using the propaganda apparatus that he fully controls, is trying to instill in Belarusians the narrative that enemies are everywhere. These enemies include Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, NATO, the United States, and Great Britain. Even the new military doctrine, which is set to be approved in April by the All-Belarusian National Assembly, designates neighboring countries, except Russia, as well as the United States and Great Britain, as unfriendly countries," noted the former minister and diplomat, deputy of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

"It must be understood that Lukashenko is under Russia's influence. He has substantial financial obligations. This year, Belarus must begin repaying a loan of approximately USD 3 billion to Russia for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the Grodno region,” Pavel Latushka stated

"It's not just a matter of Lukashenko's financial dependence on Russia. The problem lies in his mentality. Lukashenko supports Russia because, from his perspective, Russia is an ally. He has a pro-Russian orientation, although he will try to play a game whenever possible to maintain his power. Who can overthrow him? Only the Belarusian people and Russia. The Belarusian nation currently lives under a totalitarian system - no demonstrations can be organized, and detentions and arrests occur daily, with people being sentenced to imprisonment. Just recently, in Baranovichi, 17 people were sentenced to imprisonment in one day. Lukashenko will do everything in Russia's interests. He is dependent on it and, at the same time, he understands that he is responsible, along with Putin, for the crimes and the war," explained the oppositionist.

What should be done?

Pavel Latushka emphasized the need to develop a strategy for Belarus, stating that the West, the European Union, and the United States have not yet formulated one, allowing Russia to have its way, because it has such a strategy.

"First of all, our partners and neighbors must understand that until Belarus becomes a democratic country, it will pose a threat to the security of neighboring countries, NATO, the European Union, and Ukraine," Latushka said .

Latushka expressed the belief that if the West had strongly supported the Belarusian people in 2020, when millions were protesting on the streets, imposing severe sanctions and backing the protests, Belarus could have a democratic government today.

"And could we have envisioned a war between Russia and Ukraine? I believe it is doubtful and unlikely. Hence, it is crucial for all neighboring countries of Belarus and the entire West to develop a strategy regarding the regime," stated Pavel Latushka.

"The Belarusian people are the most powerful force that can oppose Lukashenko," he emphasized.

Recent sociological research indicates that only a small percentage of Belarusians desire their country to be part of Russia; they support an independent Belarus. The majority of Belarusians are against the participation of the Belarusian army in the war in Ukraine and are in favor of democratic development prospects for their country.

According to Pavel Latushka, “recent sociological research indicates that only a small percentage of Belarusians, even in recent years, desire their country to be part of Russia. They strongly support an independent Belarus. This research, conducted by sociologist Andrei Vardomatski and other centers, highlights these findings. The majority of Belarusians oppose the involvement of the Belarusian army in the Ukrainian conflict. Recent surveys have demonstrated that approximately 66 percent of Belarusians favor the prospects of democratic development for their country. It is important to consider that these sociological studies are conducted within the context of a totalitarian regime, and people are apprehensive about answering such questions. Nevertheless, they express their opposition to the war, Lukashenko, and their support for the democratic advancement of Belarus. They do not wish to become part of the Russian Federation,” he added.

“The situation in Russia is different. There, the majority backs the war and supports Putin. It is imperative for us to establish a clear demarcation line and develop a suitable strategy. We should lend support to Belarusian society by endorsing the independent press, implementing diverse programs of assistance within the country, and recognizing the democratic forces of Belarus as a viable alternative to Lukashenko's unlawful governance. Furthermore, we must acknowledge the democratic structures of Belarus and hold Lukashenko accountable," he emphasized.

The oppositionist cautioned that although the majority of Belarusians presently oppose both the war and Lukashenko, this majority is gradually diminishing.

"People are losing faith in democracy as an effective instrument for achieving change. Consequently, it is crucial to hold Lukashenko and his associates accountable for their actions in Belarus. While an F-16 plane costs $54 million, support from Belarusian society comes at a significantly lower cost. I am not suggesting that aid for Ukraine be questioned or compromised. However, it should not be an 'either-or' scenario," he remarked.

"Each country must prioritize its defense and procure necessary weapons. Our strategic objective is to support Ukraine, which we discuss and advocate for in all international meetings. Representatives of Belarus's democratic structures consistently affirm that the strategy of the democratic forces of Belarus is to support Ukraine. However, we must not forget about Belarusian society. If we lose their support, there is a risk that Belarusian soldiers could be prepared to invade neighboring countries and back Russia in a year, two, or three years. It would be a tragic outcome," cautioned the oppositionist.

"Currently, Russia is the only country with a defined strategy concerning Belarus. We require a strategy accompanied by tangible actions, not mere rhetoric. This is precisely what Belarusians expect — concrete actions," appealed the activist.

Belarusian issue

"The resolution of the regional problems associated with the war instigated by Russia with the support of Lukashenko must include Belarus," emphasized Pavel Latushka, adding that it is essential to address the ‘Belarusian issue’ in order to comprehensively address the problems in the region.

"We must recognize that ignoring Belarus, failing to pay attention to it, and not giving it the necessary focus will lead to further threats and complications. Let's consider what Lukashenko is currently doing: he continues to deliberately send hundreds of illegal migrants to the border, artificially destabilizing the situation. He does this both in his own interest and in the interest of Russia. If Belarus had a democratic government, such actions would not occur. Achieving this goal will be a challenging task. We have already lost valuable time, so let's not waste any more, or else we risk losing the support of society. If that happens, finding a solution may become impossible for decades," cautioned the Belarusian oppositionist.


The interview with Pavel Latushka, deputy of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, former Minister of Culture, former ambassador to Poland and France, was conducted by Agnieszka Kamińska,


References to some of the documents and information mentioned above

Lukashenko's meeting with activists in Vitebsk on December 15, 2021

The military doctrine of the Union State of Russia and Belarus adopted on November 4, 2021


Increase in defense expences, with the amount being increased by 29.2 percent.

A center for joint military exercises of Russia and Belarus will be established in Grodno. The decision was made on March 21 in Moscow. (Source:

There has been an announcement of a new military doctrine in Belarus.

An example of public opinion research in Belarus, conducted by an independent center.


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