- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is likely continuing to allow Russia access to Belarusian airspace to indicate support to Russian President Vladimir Putin without risking the consequences of direct Belarusian military involvement in Ukraine.
- Russian forces conducted limited and unsuccessful ground assaults northwest of Slovyansk and west of Donetsk City.
- Russian forces continued air and artillery strikes around Siversk and Bakhmut.
- Russian forces conducted localized ground assaults northwest of Kharkiv City.
- Russian forces continued to focus on defensive operations along the entire Southern Axis.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is likely continuing to grant Russian forces access to Belarusian airspace to demonstrate at least nominal support to Russian President Vladimir Putin without risking direct military involvement of Belarusian Armed Forces in operations in Ukraine.
Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian General Staff Oleksiy Gromov previously reported on July 7 that the Belarusian government transferred use of the Pribytki airfield in Gomel Oblast to Russia. Independent Belarusian monitoring organization The Hajun Project similarly reported on July 11 that a Russian Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft flew into Belarusian airspace for the first time since April 4. The Hajun Project noted that the Belarusian government introduced new airspace restrictions along the border with Ukraine where the AWACS aircraft patrolled between July 10 and 11. Taken together, these data points likely indicate that Lukashenko is attempting to provide support to Putin’s war in Ukraine short of direct Belarusian military intervention in an effort to respond to the pressure Putin is likely putting on him. As ISW has previously assessed, the likelihood of direct Belarusian involvement in the war in Ukraine remains low due to the effect that might have on the stability and even survival of Lukashenko’s regime.
Authors: Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, and Frederick W. Kagan
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