Russian Ally Investigating Sabotage of Rail System

Belarus is not one of the countries that is attacking Russia economically because of the invasion in Ukraine. The two countries are close allies, with Russia being Belarus’ biggest trading partner. Arms and ammunition are traveling across Belarus’ rail lines to support Russian troops as well. Some of the rail lines have been shut down due to sabotage by a pro-Ukraine group. The BYPOL is one group that has been targeting the railway system as part of its opposition to Russian influence in the country.

The Ukrainian army controls the railheads on its border with Belarus so that means that the number of entry points is limited. Belarus has begun special forces patrols to try and limit the sabotage and a small number of arrests have been made in connection with the attacks. This is the first time there has been kinetic action outside of Ukraine as part of the conflict. There has also been substantial discussion of the potential for attacking staging areas in Poland by Russia, especially if those airfields are used to transport weapons and ammunition into Ukraine. One reason there has not been parallel attacks in Poland, however, is that it is a NATO country which could invoke article five which states an attack on one is an attack on all.

Because the attacks in Belarus appear to be from internal movement versus a NATO country engaging in proxy attacks, they don’t seem to be raising the temperature of the conflict. Russia has been having supply chain problems according to western media outlets, but Russian media has countered that the slow pace is not due to shortages but due to Putin’s strategy of encirclement and siege.

For the moment, the sabotage attacks have had a limited impact. But should a wider campaign break out, it could help Ukraine’s armed forces hold on longer against Russian offensives. Time is against Ukraine, however. NATO’s refusal to deploy a no-fly zone — also known as engaging in direct conflict with Russia — was critical to Ukraine’s strategy of being able to create an insurgency to force Putin to negotiate a cease-fire.

It is unlikely that Ukraine will be able to retain its complete sovereignty as the Russian war machine charges forward.