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Is Belarus able to deploy 10 000 peacekeepers to Donbass?
Zapad 2017 military exercise in Belarus. Image: sb.by
On 18 February Aliaksandr Lukashenka commented on the situation with possible deployment of Belarusian peacekeepers in order to settle the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Beginning from 2014, two self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" and "Luhansk People's Republic" have existed on the territory of eastern Ukraine. Heavy fighting stopped there several years ago but people continue to get killed from the both sides. Peacekeeprs are expected to take the position between the fighting sides and will take the border between DNR, LNR and Russia under their cotrol. The border currently is not controled by Ukraine.
Lukashenka says Belarus is ready to send peacekeepers to Donbass if Russia and Ukraine reach an agreement on this matter. According to Lukashenka, NATO is proposing to include Belarusians “because Russia trusts them.” At the same time, the Belarus leader has also warned Russian and Ukraine presidents Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko: "Do not count I will be taking either of the sides."
Aliaksandr Lukashenka mentioned the number of 10 000 Belarusian peacekeepers who could deploy "near the border." The number may be accidental. Belarus Army's manpower is not more than 65 000 people, including nearly 16 000 civilian contractors. If Belarus sends 10 000 servicemen and women indeed, it will be every fifth soldier of the Armed Forces. Peacekeepers must be trained prior to deployment. As of today, there is only one active peacekeeping company at a Special Operations unit in Viciebsk.