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Pavel Latushka on the importance of the rail war in Belarus

What it is, how Belarusians do it and what impact it has on the economy

— Could you first describe how important the Belarusian railway is to the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

This is crucial because it is the railways that bring armoured vehicles into Belarus, which are subsequently used in the offensive against Ukraine. Large ammunition and missiles are also transported only by rail.

—What do you know about acts of sabotage on the railway? What is the scale of these activities?

Partisan sabotage on the Belarusian railways is organised by activists of the movement in order to obstruct the movement of military trains. Signalling equipment has been destroyed in three Belarusian regions, and railway tracks have been blocked. According to BYPOL (an association of Belarusian strongmen who went into opposition amid the 2020 protests), the operation disrupted several branches of the Belarusian railway. Russian Railways has banned the movement of its rolling stock, including military trains, through Belarus at night, and Belarusian locomotive drivers are refusing en masse to operate locomotives and take to the tracks. We know of 15 such actions so far, but we believe there are many more.

— How can the opposition movement in exile support these actions?

Informationally, through the use of underground initiatives such as cyber partisans, the coalition of protest courtyards, and the distribution of underground press (informal production and distribution of newspapers) among citizens. In essence, we have a multi-level system of resistance.

Political support, a national liberation movement must be created. It is wrong to discuss the status of Belarus while Lukashenko’s puppet government is in power and Belarus is under occupation.

—Belarus has a history of sabotage on the railway (during World War II), can you tell me anything about that?

In June 1943 the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Belarus adopted a decree "On Destruction of Enemy Railway Communications by the Railway War", which proposed a plan to destroy railways in a simultaneous mass strike in order to make it impossible for the enemy to quickly restore the railway tracks. The rail war was to be accompanied by derailment of trains, explosion of bridges and destruction of station installations. Partisan units that fought in the occupied territories widely used elements of the rail war. I.e. This method of fighting is in the Belarussians' blood.

— Railway sabotage will affect world trade and the Belarusian economy. Isn’t that a problem?

We put the moral and ethical aspect above the economic one. It is with this equipment and weaponry that civilians and children are being killed in Ukraine. Each detained echelon is probably dozens of lives saved. The economic costs in this matter seem to me to be secondary, the main thing is to save more lives.


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