Belarus wants to train over 100,000 volunteer soldiers | War in Ukraine
The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, during a military exercise bringing together the Russian and Belarusian armies, on February 17, 2022, in the suburbs of Minsk. (File photo)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced on Monday that he had ordered the formation of a new national defense troop made up of volunteers so that all know how to “handle arms” and be prepared to respond to a possible act of aggression and to maintain public order in times of peace.
The situation is not simple. I've said it more than once: every man – not just men – must be able to handle at least weapons, the ruler said at a meeting of his Council of security.
This is to protect his family, his home, his piece of land and, if necessary, his country, he continued.
While he authorized Moscow, an ally of Minsk, to use Belarus as a rear base to send Russian soldiers to Ukraine last year, Alexander Lukashenko has regularly assured that his army will fight only if the country was attacked.
He also said, however, that Ukraine's experience made it necessary to have additional defense manpower.
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Defense Minister Viktor Khrenine has indicated that the Territorial Defense Force will consist of 100,000 to 150,000 volunteers, or more if needed. The goal is, ideally, for each village or town to have paramilitary troops.
According to official data, the Belarusian army last year had about 48,000 soldiers and about 12,000 border officers.
< p class="e-p">Minsk's dependence on Moscow has observers worried that Russia is pushing its ally to join the offensive in Ukraine.