In its latest analysis of the war in Ukraine, published on Thursday night, the US think tank wrote: “Belarus remains highly unlikely to become directly involved in the war in Ukraine on the part of Russia, despite statements made by Ukrainian sources on September 29 that Belarus is preparing to accommodate newly mobilised Russian servicemen.”
The ISW noted that, according to Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR), Belarus is preparing “to accommodate up to 20,000 mobilised Russian men in existing civilian premises, warehouses, and abandoned agricultural facilities in Belarus.”
In addition, the deputy chief of the Main Operational Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Oleksiy Hromov, stated that “actions are being taken to expand the Luninets Airfield (50 km from the Belarusian-Ukrainian border) and to repair storage and military infrastructure,” the US experts wrote.
They cited the independent monitoring organisation Belarusian Hajan Project as saying that “Russia delivered Su-30 aircraft to the Baranavichy airfield in Belarus.”
Belarus' involvement in war 'exceedingly unlikely'
According to the ISW, “these data points may indicate that Russia hopes to use Belarusian military facilities and infrastructure to hold and potentially train newly mobilised Russian forces, but it remains exceedingly unlikely that these are leading indicators of imminent Belarusian involvement in Ukraine on Russia’s behalf.”
The ISW said reports “suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin is continuing to leverage his relationship with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in order to use Belarusian land for the development of Russian military capabilities."
At the same time, “Lukashenko cannot afford the domestic ramifications of Belarusian involvement in Ukraine,” the ISW stated, adding that “Russia does not have the ability to form a ground strike force from scratch or from existing units in Belarus quickly.”
Ukraine’s envelopment of key Donbas town ‘nearly complete’
The ISW also reported on Thursday night that “Ukrainian troops have likely nearly completed the encirclement of the Russian grouping in Lyman and cut critical ground lines of communication (GLOCS) that support Russian troops in the Drobysheve-Lyman area.”
In an earlier assessment, the US think tank said that “the collapse of the Lyman pocket will likely be highly consequential to the Russian grouping in northern Donetsk and western Luhansk oblasts and may allow Ukrainian troops to threaten Russian positions along the western Luhansk Oblast border and in the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area.”
Russia strikes humanitarian convoy near Zaporizhzhia, killing 23
A Russian airstrike destroyed a humanitarian convoy of vehicles near the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia in the early hours of Friday, leaving dozens of civilians dead and wounded, according to Ukrainian officials.
At least 23 people were killed and a further 28 were injured in the attack, all of whom were civilians, US broadcaster CNN reported, citing Oleksandr Starukh, the Zaporizhzhia regional governor.
“They were on their way to distribute aid to those living under Russian occupation and to try and get their relatives out,” the governor said, as quoted by dailymail.co.uk.
Lack of medical provision dents Russian morale: UK defence ministry
Meanwhile, "medical provision for Russian combat troops in Ukraine is probably growing worse," the UK Ministry of Defence reported on Friday.
The British analysts said that some newly mobilised Russian reservists “have been ordered to source their own combat first aid supplies, with the advice that female sanitary products are a cost-effective solution.”
According to the UK Ministry of Defence, “medical training and first-aid awareness is likely poor” among Russian soldiers.
Some Russian troops "have obtained their own modern, Western-style combat torniquets but have stowed them on their equipment using cable-ties, rather than with the Velcro provided - probably because such equipment is scarce and liable to be pilfered,” the British experts wrote in their latest intelligence update.
They added that “this is almost certain to hamper or render impossible the timely application of torniquet care in the case of catastrophic bleeding on the battlefield.”
According to the UK defence ministry, “Russian troops’ lack of confidence in sufficient medical provision is almost certainly contributing to a declining state of morale and a lack of willingness to undertake offensive operations in many units in Ukraine.”
Friday is day 219 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: understandingwar.org, Reuters, UK Ministry of Defence, dailymail.co.uk, CNN