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Belarus Warning Update: Forced Integration with Russia—Not the Protest Movement—Is Lukashenko’s Biggest Threat

February 19, 2021, 2:00 pm EDTBy George BarrosKey Takeaway: The Kremlin’s ongoing campaign to increase Russian control over Belarus poses a larger risk to self-declared Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko than the diminishing Belarusian protest movement in 2021. Lukashenko presented a new strategy to end the crisis in Belarus on February 11-12; he announced plans for a referendum on a new constitution in 2022 and promised...

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Belarus Warning Update: Russia Fields New Motor Rifle Division in Kaliningrad and Conducts Joint Command Training with Belarus

February 8, 2021, 5:00 EDTBy George Barros with Savannah ModesittThe Kremlin is increasing its projection capabilities against both NATO and Belarus.The Kremlin announced in December 2020 its decision to field a new motorized rifle division in Kaliningrad. Baltic Fleet commander Admiral Aleksandr Nosatov announced on December 7, 2020, that the Kremlin decided to reinforce the Baltic Fleet’s 11th Army Corps with a motorized rifle...

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Belarus Warning Update: Belarusian Forces May Deploy to Syria in Late 2021

By George Barros with Jennifer CafarellaFebruary 4, 2021A Belarusian veterans group claims the Belarusian Armed Forces (BAF) are preparing to deploy two battalions of so-called “peacekeepers” to Syria in September 2021. BYPOL, an association of former Belarusian security service personnel and military veterans who sympathize with the protest movement against self-declared Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, claimed on...

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Belarus Warning Update: Belarus Confirms Plans to Purchase Advanced Air Defense Systems from Russia

January 14, 2021 2:30 EDTBy George BarrosThe Kremlin will likely employ Russian S-400 advanced air defense systems in Belarus as ISW forecasted. The commander of Belarus’ Air Force and Air Defense Forces announced on January 14, 2020, that the Belarusian Defense Ministry (MoD) is conducting pre-contract work to equip Belarus’ anti-aircraft missile divisions that currently operate the S-300 system with S-400 and Pantsir-S...

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Belarus Warning Update: Putin Will Increase Pressure on Lukashenko to Integrate Belarus in 2021

 December 18, 2020, 7:45 pm EDTGeorge BarrosRussian President Vladimir Putin has used the ongoing crisis in Belarus to increase his sway over self-declared Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has long stonewalled Moscow’s persistent efforts to integrate Belarus into Russia. A sustained protest movement following Lukashenko’s overt manipulation of Belarus’ August 2020 presidential election has seriously degraded...

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Belarus Warning Update: NEXTA Intensifies Campaign to Develop Local Opposition Leadership in Minsk

November 30, 2020By George BarrosThe NEXTA Telegram channel likely launched a new campaign to spur the development of local opposition leadership in Belarus on November 20, 2020. NEXTA issued unprecedented directions for protesters to “build local connections” among their fellow protesters on November 20.[1] NEXTA instructed protesters in Minsk to gather in regional groups within their local neighborhoods for Sunday protests on...

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Belarus Warning Update Putin Pressures Lukashenko to Implement His Previous Integration Concessions

November 30, 2020, 6:00 pm EDTBy George BarrosThe Kremlin sent Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Minsk on November 26, 2020, likely to secure the implementation of Union State integration concessions that self-declared Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko made on September 14. Lukashenko reaffirmed his commitments to Moscow after Lavrov reminded him about his concessions to Russian President Vladimir Putin from their...

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Belarus Warning Update: Belarusian Opposition Leader Directs Protesters to Employ Force against Lukashenko

 November 11, 2020, 4:00 pm EDTBy George BarrosLithuania-based opposition leader Svitlana Tikhanouskaya called on Belarusian protesters to employ force against self-proclaimed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for the first time on November 13, 2020. Tikhanouskaya called on Belarusians to physically capture Lukashenko, regime officials, and security forces responsible for carrying out Lukashenko’s orders so they can stand...

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Belarus Warning Update: Upcoming CSTO Exercise Could Support Russian Military Deployment to Belarus

November 6, 2020, 4:00 pm EDTBy George BarrosThe Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will conduct a rapid response exercise in Medvezhi Ozera, Moscow Oblast, November 11-12. An unspecified number of  Russian, Belarusian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Tajik personnel will participate in the exercise.[1] Armenian forces will not participate, likely due to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.This exercise is likely the November iteration...

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Belarus Warning Update: Lukashenko Accuses Poland of Preparing Catholic Sectarian Subversion

 November 2, 2020, 5:30 pm EDTBy George BarrosSelf-declared Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko intensified anti-NATO rhetoric by accusing Poland of using Belarusian Catholic clergy as an anti-Belarusian fifth column. Lukashenko said Polish influence through Belarusian Catholic clergy threatens the Belarusian state on November 2.[1] Lukashenko accused Poland of exploiting Belarus’ lack of resources to train Catholic clergy...

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Belarus Warning Update: Lukashenko Raises Odd Chemical Terrorism Threat

 October 29, 2020, 4:45 EDTBy George BarrosSelf-declared Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko alluded to a possible chemical terrorism threat in Belarus for the first time on October 29. Lukashenko said the ongoing strike at the Azot chemical plant – a large nitrogen compound and fertilizer plant in Grodno – could create an "explosion" and that an ensuing toxic fallout cloud could kill several...