Sunday, December 4, 2022

Ukraine bolsters defences by Belarus-Russia border amid fears of new offensive

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A Ukrainian border guard scans the horizon to the border with Russia and Belarus, just a few kilometres north. 

This is where Russia’s 90th armored division swept in when the war started on February 24.

Amid fears of an attack coming from their northern border with Belarus and Russia, Ukraine’s border guards are fortifying their positions.

“All this time we are here…Our main goal is to prevent a new invasion,” said the unnamed Ukrainian border guard.

“But if it happens again in this area, then we are ready to stop the enemy at the state border line, to prevent them from advancing deep into our country.”

In early April, Russian troops pulled back from the north to refocus on their campaign in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Since then, Kyiv has been watching the border like a hawk, all the more so since Belarus began serving as a rear base for Moscow’s forces.

On October 20, Ukraine’s military said the threat of a renewed offensive from the north was “growing”, flagging intensified “aggressive rhetoric” from its northern neighbours who are close allies.

Several days earlier, Minsk said up to 9,000 Russian soldiers and some 170 tanks would be deployed to Belarus as part of a joint task force to secure its borders.

Some 30 kilometres to the south lies Gorodnia, the first town occupied by the Russians on the first morning of the invasion.

Mayor Andriy Bogdan said he was hoping the events of February 24 “won’t be repeated” even if such a threat “does exist.”

“Of course, there is such a threat, because the situation in Belarus is unpredictable, there are Russian troops there. We know that. The behaviour of the Belarusian leadership is completely incomprehensible,” said Andriy Bogdan. 

Grocery shop owner Svetlana dismisses the idea that Belarus could attack.

“We live on the border, we are brotherly nations. I have a brother in Belarus, and a sister in Moscow. I can’t really believe that, as these are three siblings on different sides. Of course I want everything to end as soon as possible.”

Numisteamone

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