Senior officer: Belarus' entry into war would be bad news for Ukraine

Brig. Gen. Vahur Karus on Friday's 'Esimene stuudio'.
Brig. Gen. Vahur Karus on Friday's 'Esimene stuudio'. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Friday's announcement by Ukraine's government that Belarusian forces are likely to join Russian troops in the invasion of Ukraine is bad new for the latter, if it comes true, Brig Gen. Vahur Karus, chief of the Defense Forces Academy (Kaitseväe akadeemia), says.

Appearing on ETV current affairs show "Esimene stuudio" Friday evening, Maj. Gen. Karus said: "It can be concluded from various intelligence pieces arriving from different parts of Ukraine, that while Russian forces have suffered heavy losses, Ukrainian troops have too been hit hard, Karus said, while the latter will soon face a new enemy (i.e. Belarusian troops).

"This is certainly bad. Belarus can bring in fresh troops which still have the equipment," he said.

At the same time, the newcomers will likely also have their negative aspects, from the perspective of the Russian invaders.

"[The Belarusians] have not been in battle, which may diminish their value since they will be reservists, if and when they use land forces brigades, and not airborne brigades," Karus went on.

Ukraine has kept part of its reserve forces in the west of the country and away from the brunt of the fighting in the border areas, the east and in Black Sea coastal cities such as Mariupol.

This has been done, Karus said, as a hedge against a possible invasion from Belarus.

That set-up still: "Makes the situation clearer, as at least everyone knows where everyone else is, and it gives the Ukrainians a chance to see where their reserve units are located; currently it seems that they have done very well in terms of economy of battle, but two weeks [since the conflict started] is a very long time."

"There have been some very intense battles, and they need to rotate," the Brigadier General added.

Belarusian forces would also encounter logistical issues as they advanced towards Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, mainly due to the famous Pripet Marshes, which between the border and the city.

"If you take a look at the landscape between Belarus and Kiev, it is a nightmare for a logistics planner. This is the southern part of the marshes, where the land is very waterlogged and all angles of attack would have to cross waterlogged areas, which means having to keep various crossings occupied at all times.

This was particularly problematic for mechanized units, he added, where 100 km of ground to cover would equate to 10 percent losses.

The Pripet Marshes were a major obstacle to invading forces during both of the two world wars.

It remains unclear, still, what Russian invading forces' original attack plans had been on the eve of the start of the offensive, on February 24, Brig. Gen. Karus continued.

He said: "We think they wanted to carry out a surprise attack, occupy airfields, fly in their airborne divisions and then bring these quickly back to the [land forces'] column."

If they had planned so, it necessitated attack formations moving as rapidly as possible, Karus added.

However, the subsequent, actual movement has shown that, if this was the case, logistical miscalculations were made on the part of the invaders, he went on.

Of the Black Sea coast offensives, Odesa, firmly in Ukrainian hands, is a little too large of a target to conquer, Karus added.

Regarding the battles on the southern coast of Ukraine, Karus said that Odessa is a little too big a city to conquer.

"I don't not believe that they can take it. The examples of Kharkiv, Mariupol, and Sumy, where cities are simply bombed, demonstrate this," he went on.

"Maybe they expect Odesa to surrender of its own accord," he added, noting that this would be a way to bridge the gap to Transnistria, a Russian-occupied region of Moldova.

The role and involvement of Belarusian forces in the Russian invasion has been subject to much speculation since the war began. So far, the country has mostly been used as a staging post for the Russian military, which conducted a large-scale exercise there in the weeks leading up to the invasion.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: