Full-scale war between Belarus & Ukraine now looking more likely than a conflict with Russia, says MP from Kiev’s ruling party

The threat of an all-out conflict with neighboring Belarus is now becoming a more likely scenario for Ukraine than a mooted Russian ‘invasion’ of the country, a member of Kiev’s governing ‘Servant of the People’ party has claimed.

Parliamentarian Yegor Chernev wrote on Tuesday that relations with Minsk have deteriorated so far that a war is looming larger than the purported threat of an invasion ordered by Moscow. The claims come amid heightened tensions between Ukraine and embattled Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, and despite an ongoing political conflict with Russia over gas transit fees.

“A large-scale war with Belarus is becoming more likely than a direct invasion by Russia. It seems that the aggression against Ukraine could be the price that Lukashenko promised to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin for saving his regime”, Chernev wrote in a Facebook post.

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The Ukrainian politician noted that the Russian president “cannot openly attack us – the risks are too great.” However, he gave a bullish assessment of Kiev’s chances in such a conflict, saying that Belarus “does not have aviation and missiles, and without them it is impossible to defeat Ukraine.”

Chernev also stated that Lukashenko has been “preparing the ground for such a scenario for a long time.” In September, Belarus’ leader stated that he wanted to buy Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft rockets, with a plan to reinforce the country’s border with Ukraine. Kiev has also sounded the alarm over the perceived threat of joint Moscow-Minsk military exercises held over the summer, Zapad 2021, which saw state-of-the-art weaponry trialled in a battlefield scenario.

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The strain on the countries’ already tense relations has also been exacerbated by smaller incidents, such as a Belarusian sign reportedly being destroyed from beyond the Ukrainian border.

The news comes as what Kiev calls an economic battle continues with Moscow over new gas deals that circumvent Ukraine. A new deal penned between Russia and Hungary has seen supplies transported through the Balkans, causing Kiev to warn about the potential to cut the country off from transit fees. Yuriy Vitrenko, CEO of Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz, has previously said that “this is a very clear sign that they are using gas as a geopolitical weapon at the moment,” and also called on Berlin and Washington to take decisive action in response.

READ MORE: Gas or gaslighting? Ukraine accuses Russia of weaponizing energy resources

Russia denies that it is using gas supplies to exert pressure on Ukraine, and a top Moscow lawmaker warned this week that Kiev’s network of Soviet-built pipelines is outdated and could potentially lead to significant safety risks.

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