Russia is turning to its "much less experienced" ally to help train its troops
Russia has “resorted” to training troops in the neighbouring country of Belarus, according to the latest UK intelligence.
Belarus has been a loyal ally to Russia throughout the war, as well as an essential trade partner who is deeply under Moscow’s influence.
In its Friday update on Twitter, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) explained that as of mid-March, Russia had “likely redeployed at least 1,000 troops who had been training” in south-western Belarus, presumably to the battlefield in Ukraine.
It continued: “Although no new rotation of troops has been noted, Russia has highly likely left the tented camp in place, suggesting it is considering continuing the training programme.”
The MoD also pointed out: “The fact that Russia has resorted to training its personnel under the much less-experienced Belarusian army highlights how Russia’s ‘special military operation’ has severely dislocated the Russian military training system – instructors have largely been deployed in Ukraine.”
The war is certainly not going as Russian president Vladimir Putin originally intended. He and the Kremlin had planned to conquer Ukraine and seize the capital of Kyiv within a matter of days.
There has now been 13 months of war, and there’s no end in sight.
Reports from Ukraine also claim that more than 1,000 Russian soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours after a series of unsuccessful attacks, adding to widespread speculation that Moscow has an alarmingly high casualty rate.
Russia even appears to have altered its end goals slightly by seeking only to consolidate the land it has already seized in east Ukraine, rather than taking the whole country.
The MoD added: “Russia likely also views Belarus’s continued indirect support to the operation as important political messaging.”
The war has left Putin pretty isolated on the world stage, meaning any allies are incredibly important to him.
Only last week, a visit from Chinese president Xi Jinping – where the two spoke of their friendship having “no limits” – was perceived as a major strategic boost for Putin.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 24 March 2023.
Find out more about Defence Intelligence's use of language: https://t.co/rQBoHmhsbB
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/leo9MwlOvq
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) March 24, 2023
But it’s worth remembering that this isn’t the first time the Russia has used the land-locked country of Belarus to bolster its military efforts.
Russia trained more than 30,000 troops in Belarus in the winter of 2022 before they helped launch the invasion of Ukraine last February.
The Pentagon also believes some Russian missiles have been launched from Belarus over the course of the war.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is preparing a new counter-offensive according to a leading commander.
Ukraine’s top ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi indicated that the army planned to take advantage of the fading strength of the Wagner Group mercenaries, who have been leading Putin’s war effort in recent months.
He said: “Very soon, we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we did in the past near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk.”