Belarus says it has 1.5 million potential soldiers outside armed forces
(Reuters) - Belarus, a small Russian ally bordering Ukraine, has as many as 1.5 million potential military personnel outside its armed forces, a senior official was quoted as saying on Saturday.
President Alexander Lukashenko has supported his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in his year-long war with Ukraine, including by letting him invade from Belarusian territory and by allowing Russia to train newly mobilised troops in Belarus.
Lukashenko this month ordered the formation of a new volunteer territorial defence force of up to 150,000 people. He has said his army would fight only if Belarus was attacked.
"The structures of the organisations, not the Armed Forces, will amount to somewhere up to 1.5 million people in the event of a declaration of martial law and the switch of the economy to a war mode," said State Secretary of the Security Council Alexander Volfovich, according to the state BelTA news agency.
Belarus has a population of around 9.3 million. The country's professional army has about 48,000 troops and some 12,000 state border troops, according to the 2022 International Institute for Strategic Studies' Military Balance.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by William Mallard)