KEY POINTS

  • Belarusian citizens are now signing contracts with Russian private armies to be deployed to the war in Ukraine 
  • Lukashenko said they only launched strikes against Ukraine 'for preventive purposes'
  • Lukashenko has repeatedly claimed that Ukraine plans to attack both Belarus and Russia

Russian private armies are now recruiting the citizens of Belarus to fight in the war against Ukraine, according to a report.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (UAF) said Belarus residents are now signing contracts with Russian private military companies to participate in the invasion. The UAF General Staff did not specify the companies holding the recruitment drive, which allegedly began this month.

“During July of this year, a campaign to recruit the citizens of this country to sign contracts with Russian private military companies is continuing on the territory of the Republic of Belarus. The military commissariats of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus are taking an active part in these measures,” the UAF General Staff said in a report posted on its official Facebook channel.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus since 1994, confirmed that they are helping Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. However, he denied killing Ukrainians and said they launched strikes on Ukrainian military facilities “for preventive purposes.”

“Yes, we're involved in the operation. But how? We defend the west, the southwest of Belarus, so that you would not stab the Russians in the back from there. Indeed, we treated the wounded, we admitted the dead. We have given medicines both to Ukrainians and Russians. We still do. This is what our involvement in this operation is about. We do not kill people,” Lukashenko told Belarusian news agency BelTA.

Since the war began in February, Lukashenko has repeatedly claimed that Ukraine was preparing to attack both Russia and Belarus. During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in March, Lukashenko showed Putin a map of Belarus with locations that he claimed Ukraine plans to attack, according to Ukrainska Pravda.

Belarus served as a staging ground for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian soldiers and warplanes flew into Ukraine from Belarus when the invasion began in February. Missiles targeting Ukraine were also launched from Belarus.

Lukashenko has previously shown support for Putin’s arguments that Finland and Sweden should not be allowed to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Despite Lukashenko’s close ties with Putin, several Belarusian soldiers have joined the war in support of Ukraine.

A Ukrainian service member prepares shells for a M777 Howitzer at a front line, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine July 21, 2022.
A Ukrainian service member prepares shells for a M777 Howitzer at a front line, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine July 21, 2022. Reuters / GLEB GARANICH
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