March 4 – March 10, 2024
Security issues

All Hands on Deck! The Regime Prepares State Bodies for Wartime Operations

The situation got worse
All Hands on Deck! The Regime Prepares State Bodies for Wartime Operations

The Belarusian leadership is preparing the state apparatus for operation under wartime conditions. This follows the announcement of a period of increasing military threat and/or the introduction of martial law. Such measures are due to the escalation of the military-political situation because of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and preparations for the possible entry of Belarus into the war on the side of Russia.

On March 4, Lukashenka signed a decree “On the transfer of state bodies and other organizations to operate under wartime conditions,” which has not yet been published. According to official data, the document improves the transfer of state bodies and other organizations from operating under peacetime to wartime conditions.

The decree defines the range of state bodies to which it applies. The list is supplemented by the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly (APNA), the chambers of the National Assembly, the Constitutional and Supreme Courts. It also provides for the assignment of military ranks to the heads of certain state bodies and a number of organizations upon the introduction of martial law. Formally, the decree ensures the systematic and uninterrupted functioning of the state apparatus during the period of increasing military threat and in wartime.

The transition from peace to wartime occurs with the announcement of a period of increasing military threat and/or martial law. In recent years, Lukashenka has several times directly or indirectly (i.e., through other acts) amended the law on martial law:

  • May 2021: a two-page decree “On the protection of sovereignty and constitutional order” was signed. The document declares that if a politician dies unnaturally, military or emergency status is automatically introduced in the country under the leadership of the Security Council;
  • July 2021: amendments to legislation on “issues of protecting sovereignty and constitutional order” were signed: Article 4 on the introduction of martial law under special circumstances was added to the law on martial law. It specifies that in the event of Lukashenka’s violent death, all state bodies and their officials will be subordinate to the Security Council (currently chaired by the head of the Council of the Republic, Natalya Kachanova). The main issue to be resolved by the Security Council in emergency conditions is the conduct of elections. Together with the governors, the Security Council will announce their holding, as well as decide whether to restrict Belarusians’ freedom of movement, ban mass events, and whether to establish a curfew;
  • February 2023: a law on the APNA was signed, which under the new Constitution acquired the right to introduce emergency or martial law “in case of inaction by the president on these matters.” That is, “his failure to take necessary measures to eliminate circumstances that pose a danger to the life and health of people, territorial integrity, and existence of the state.” This also includes the absence of measures “to eliminate military threat or repel an attack” on Belarus;
  • uly 2023: a law on the people’s militia was signed, creating the legal basis for voluntary participation of citizens as militiamen in ensuring martial law, introduced in the country’s regions.

From February 7 to 9, 2023, a large-scale training with republican state management bodies on national security issues was held at the Military Academy of the Republic of Belarus. The event was attended by the leadership and officials of the President’s Administration, the Council of Ministers, the State Secretariat of the Security Council, various ministries and departments, local authorities, representatives of the National Assembly, and the National Bank. The training focused on the action algorithms of state bodies under various conditions—from emergency situations to counter-terrorism operations.

The aim of the training was declared to be the development of coordinated actions and operational decisions by state bodies under time and resource constraints. The event was also aimed at fine-tuning the system of operational information exchange and clarifying the procedure for interdepartmental interaction. The training was conducted under tense international and regional situations and the exacerbation of the situation at the borders of Belarus.

Thus, the main reason for changes in the procedure for transferring state bodies and organizations to operate under wartime conditions is related to preparations for the possible introduction of martial law in case Belarus enters the war on the side of Russia. Lukashenka spoke about the inevitability of this scenario at a meeting with the leadership of state bodies of the national security system on February 20 (see previous review).

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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