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April 29 – May 5, 2024
Security issues

Regime works on inventing casus belli for military conflict with Ukraine, but so far uses it for home consumption

The situation has not changed

The recent arrest of a group consisting of two Ukrainians and one Belarusian as a result of an anti-terrorist operation on the Belarus-Ukraine border was presented by the regime as an infiltration attempt of a subversive reconnaissance unit. Its tasks allegedly included the preparation of terrorist actions in Belarus and Russia. It is unclear whether the episode was staged or not. However, it is evident that the regime has used it to fuel tension within Belarusian society, instead of a reason to go to war with Ukraine.

Regime works on inventing casus belli for military conflict with Ukraine, but so far uses it for home consumption

On 15 February, the regional newspaper Svetlae Zhytstsio, based in Lelchytsy, published a piece on a counter-terrorist operation (CTO) in the Lelchytsy District, citing the Homel Region KGB Directorate. Local authorities called it a drill. Subsequently, the Belarusian authorities issued a correction to this version. It turned out that on the night of 14-15 February, the border guards stationed in the Lelchytsy District spotted a group of individuals crossing the border from the Ukrainian side into Belarus. It is alleged that the infiltration occurred simultaneously from various locations within the complex border terrain. These locations included flooded woodland, with water levels reaching up to three metres in depth in some areas. In light of these developments, it was deemed necessary to conduct an anti-terrorist operation on 15 February. This operation resulted in the detention of “individuals involved in a subversive reconnaissance unit, comprising citizens of Ukraine, Belarus and their accomplices”. The CTO area was cordoned off.

The arrest was carried out by the special unit of the KGB “Alfa”, which arrived in the area of the CTO with three helicopters. The uniforms of the law enforcement officers had “KGB” patches, and the helmet of one of them wore the “Z” symbol, which indicates Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the neo-fascist ideology of the current leadership of the Russian Federation.

The KGB later revealed the names of the arrestees – they were Ukrainian nationals, father and son Serhii and Pavel Kabarchuk, and Belarusian Vital Ulasiuk. They carried explosives and other means of destruction, allegedly given to them by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) before crossing the border.

According to the KGB, the explosives arranged by members of the subversive reconnaissance unit (SRU) were intended for terrorist attacks, mainly in Russia and Belarus. The deployment of the SRU to Belarus across the border was allegedly organised by the Security Service of Ukraine, whose officers conducted additional reconnaissance of the area in collaboration with the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. During the course of the CTO, Ukraine was engaged in conducting aerial and other forms of reconnaissance in the CTO area.

It subsequently emerged that the detained father and son Kabarchuk were under investigation in Ukraine for drug smuggling. Their bail expired on the day they crossed the border. In the video broadcast by Belarusian state television on 16 February, Serhii Kabarchuk, a detainee with a black eye, spoke about his prosecution in Ukraine. He claimed that they had been framed by the SBU, which promised to drop the case in return for transporting the “load” to Belarus, where it would be buried. As far as the detained Belarusian Vital Ulasiuk is concerned, it is known that he’s 53 years old, lives in Brest and supports the “Russian World” idea.

All these circumstances indicate that the CTO was staged, and the matter concerns smugglers who tried to dodge criminal responsibility in Ukraine on the territory of Belarus. This case aligns with the broader strategy of the regime to fuel tension within Belarusian society. In particular, the statements of internal affairs ministers, such as Mikalai Karpiankou, the internal troops commander of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, highlight the attempts to destabilise the situation on the eve of the so-called single voting day. It is possible that other law enforcement agencies may report similar “successful ops” in the near future within apparatus competition.

Despite this, Aleksandr Lukashenko confirmed the information about the neutralisation of the SRU at the Belkoopsoyuz meeting and stated that saboteurs had been detained in Belarus. They allegedly sneaked from the territory of Ukraine through swamps to transfer explosives and meant to carry out subversive acts, primarily in Russia and Belarus. He used this example to persuade civil servants and consumer cooperatives to remain united and consolidated. According to him, such attempts at SRU infiltration from the Ukrainian side allegedly occur as frequently as two or three times a week.

He also took the opportunity to reiterate his loyalty to the Kremlin. Lukashenko has stated that he is unable to permit a strategic defeat of Russia, as it would result in the partition of Belarusian territory with the involvement of Poland.

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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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