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Ukraine beefs up along Belarus border — in case Putin wants a do-over

Scripps News visited the border with Belarus, where Ukraine’s military and border guard service have built a vast network of trenches.
Posted at 8:58 PM, Feb 09, 2023
and last updated 2024-04-16 12:30:11-04

It’s a psy-ops battle on the border. 

Ukraine this week posted video of ts troops on training exercises near Belarus. Russia released video of its fighter jets training with the Belarus air force. 

Ukraine’s military says at least 10,000 Russian troops are positioned in Belarus, potentially staging for another northern invasion. Not only on Kyiv, but also on the supply lines that run western weapons into Ukraine from Poland. 

This time a year ago, a massive Russian military buildup in Belarus presaged Putin’s February 24th invasion and the Russian attack aimed at taking the capitol. 

On February 24th, Ukraine’s military blew up a bridge over the Dnipro River, and that denied Russian tanks a direct route to get to central Kyiv. That forced the Russians to attempt a run on Kyiv from the east, through the city’s suburbs, where they inflicted some of the worst atrocities of the war. 

But the invasion stalled, and Ukrainian fighters destroyed Russian tanks, forcing a retreat. 

As the anniversary approaches, Ukraine is building up its defenses in the north. 

Scripps News visited the dense forests that are along the border with Belarus, where Ukraine’s military and border guard service have built a vast network of trenches. None of it existed a year ago when the Russians first invaded. 

Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are dug in, living in the trenches on high alert. 

"We’ve not ruled out there will be an attack," said an officer with the border guard service, who goes by Serhiy. "On February 24th, we did not expect an invasion, so now we’re training to be ready.” 

SCRIPPS NEWS' JASON BELLINI: I don't see tanks, or an artillery or another types of equipment that you need to protect Ukraine if there will another invasion coming from Belarus. 

SERHIY: We have everything, but it is hidden.

 

 

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Along the 6,000 mile border, Ukrainian forces use drones as an early warning system. 

"We continuously monitor the enemy from the ground and observe troop movements—if they are moving, how many troops, and where they’re going," said a Ukrainian intelligence officer. "The enemy’s also monitoring our activity. The enemy is constantly monitoring our guard change, trying to find our positions and strong points."

It appears Russian President Vladimir Putin prioritizes the taking of territory in the eastern Donbas region. But military analysts say that forcing Ukraine’s outmanned and outgunned forces to divert resources to the northern border could help Russia achieve victories to mark their invasion’s one-year anniversary. 

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