Minsk wants to create people's militia to deter Russia

Minsk wants to create people's militia to deter Russia

Minsk wants to set up a people's militia as a deterrent, according to the Defense MinistryDefense Ministry.

Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said on Friday that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has instructed the government in Minsk to create a militia in order to expand the armed forces and deter outside meddling. Lukashenko has already announced the creation of a southern military command on the border with Ukraine.

Lukashenko has tasked the military with creating a people's militia in our country, according to a meeting of governors and military commissioners of Belarusian regions on Friday. After the matter is discussed with the governors, it will be regulated by law, Khrenin said, after which the numerical strength of the Belarusian armed forces will increase many times. Khrenin said that this is very necessary. The most important thing is that we have both people and weapons for this. Belarus has a reserve of up to 340,000 active-duty soldiers and around 60,000 active-duty soldiers.

The People's Militia Narodnoe Opolcheniye has a long tradition in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine going back to medieval times. The 400,000 militia played a key role in defeating Napoleon's invasion in 1812. The mass levy was the most recent use during World War II.

In addition to raising a militia, Lukashenko has instructed the Belarusian military to set up an operational military district on the southern border, citing the escalating conflict in Ukraine. Belarus has positioned most of its military on the western and northwestern border, facing NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Last week, Minsk officials said that Ukraine had deployed around 20,000 troops along the border with Belarus, and accused Kiev of setting up fortifications and sending saboteur units across.

Relations between Minsk and Kiev, which were already strained, have deteriorated since the start of Russia's military operation against Ukraine in February. Russian troops attacked Ukraine from multiple directions, including from Belarusian territory, prompting fears that Minsk might get directly involved in the hostilities. Belarus has denied any plans to join Russia in its assault.

Russia attacked Ukraine after failing to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied it plans to retake the two republics by force.

After meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Lukashenko said that Poland and some other NATO members were taking steps to dismember Ukraine, under the guise of helping Kiev.