The Belarusian government is struggling to quell an internal guerrilla group that opposes Minsk’s aid to Russia and has been engaged in a sabotage campaign since the start of the war in Ukraine.
Earlier this week, opposition activists from the Union of Security Forces of Belarus (BYPOL), a group formed after the 2020 political upheaval in Belarus, attacked a Russian warplane outside the capital city using a drone.
“Belarusians have not allowed the Russians to freely use our territory for the war with Ukraine, and we want to force them to leave,” a retired Belarusian soldier joins a group of saboteurs. Gaye and known as Anton, told The Associated Press in a Friday report.
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“The Russians must understand on whose side the Belarusians are actually fighting,” he said.
Although Belarus has not been directly involved in Russia’s war effort, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been one of the few world leaders to vocally support Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” and has called for Russian troops to move into northern Ukraine from their borders. allowed to be deployed.
Russia has also frequently relied on Belarusian airspace to launch missiles into Ukraine.
Lukashenko’s positive sentiments toward Putin’s war effort are not widely shared.
Sabotage groups have been sporadically attacking Belarusian train systems since the start of the war in an attempt to prevent Russian supplies from reaching their forces on the southern border.
Lukashenko claimed earlier this week to have found the culprits behind the drone strike that brought down the Russian Beriev A-50, which had to be returned to Russia for repairs.
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The authoritarian president claimed a Ukrainian saboteur and more than 20 associates were detained after the strike, although Belarusian saboteurs said Friday otherwise.
BYPOL leader Aliaksandra Azarou said, “We are not familiar with the person Lukashenko spoke about,” adding that those involved in the attack were successfully able to flee the country.
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Ukraine has also denied involvement in sabotage attacks inside Belarus.
“We have a two-headed enemy these days,” said Azarou, who is based out of Belarus. He said the group aimed to free Belarus “from Russian occupation” and from the Lukashenko regime.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.