Pro-Russian Commanders of the Belarusian Army

Today Belarus is occupied and is considered to be the only Russian ally during its war against Ukraine. Though the Belarusian troops are not directly involved yet in the fight, the territory of the republic is fully in hands of Russian militaries.

Belarus gained Independence in 1991 but in 1994 its’ parliament ratified The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia consisting of six post-Soviet states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. The Collective Security Treaty has its origins in the Soviet Armed Forces.

Mostly this Treaty was signed to hold the military forces of the newly independent states under Russian influence (equipment supplies, common military training, common defense system). The person who offered this Treaty to be ratified in the Belarusian parliament was Alexander Lukashenka. Despite fierce opposition from the deputies of the Belarusian People Front the former communists in the parliament voted to reconnect Belarusian military forces to Moscow. As result, it allowed the Russian officers to stay in Belarus more comfortably from an ideological point of view and to send high-ranking Belarusian officers to study in Russian military schools.

This usage of soft power allowed Russia to infiltrate Belarus with pro-Russian officers on all levels and to take control of the decision-making process. 

It allowed the creation of a common Russian-Belarusian air defense system and to build a common “group of troops”. Russians are using it now to bring more and more of its soldiers to Belarus, formally for training proposals.

A lot of evidence can be brought to show how the Belarusian army depends on Russia, but few articles pay attention to the people who are responsible for such involvement of the Belarusian army in the war against Ukraine (even offering its territory and providing Russia with artillery ammo).

Let’s look through the list of critical positions in the Belarusian Defense governmental organizations. 

Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus – Oleg Belokonev. According to Wikipedia, he was born in a rural village in the Primorsky Krai region of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic. He is of Russian origin. He first began his service in the Armed Forces of the USSR in the early 1980s. He graduated with honors in 1987 from the Omsk Higher All-Arms Command School (Russia).

If we continue to read the Wikipedia article dedicated to General Belokonev, we find the following:

”On 1 October 2021, at the funeral of a KGB officer killed during the raid of the home of programmer Andrei Zeltser, himself killed by the KGB during the incident, Belokonev publicly called for murdering members of the opposition to revenge hypothetical killings of state security officials:

In what families were these people raised? I think we deal too gently with them and the suchlike. For some reason, they do not act in a lawful manner, and we try to do everything within the scope of the law; [we try] to talk to them within the limits of the law, to persuade them within the limits of the law, to reason them within the limits of the law. One should follow Putin’s words and ‘waste them in the sh*thouse’ – 20, 100 persons for one our guy as a lesson to everyone else… So that no one was offended. It may be rude, but honest,

Russian origin General Belokonev follows Putin’s words and has no pity for Belarusians who are struggling for freedom and trying to withstand the violence from the side of the Belarusian state.

The second general on our list is Alexander Volfovich – Secretary of the State Security Council of the Republic of Belarus. It’s also a top-ranked general originating from Russia. We easily find an article about him on Wikipedia and read the following:

“Alexander Grigorievich Volfovich was born on June 28, 1967, in Kazan (now Russia, author)… In 1988, he graduated from the Moscow Higher Military Command School. It was here where he studied with the former Minister of Defense Andrei Ravkov (former Belarusian Minister of Defence, author)…”

In this article, I highlighted the name of the military school in Moscow on purpose. It’s a key factor in understanding what’s going on in Belarusian military forces. Most of the top-ranked commanders graduated from high military command schools in Russia.

Like Viktor Gulevich – the current Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Belarus. He graduated from Moscow Higher Military Command School with honors in 1990.

The current Minister of Defence – Viktor Khrenin was born in Belarus. But after graduating from Minsk Suvorov Military school he graduated from the Omsk-based Frunze Higher Combined Arms Command School (Russia)

In the Wikipedia article about General Khrenin we can find the following quote about him:

“During the 2020 Belarusian protests, he compared those marching and protesting under the historical tricolor of the short-lived Belarusian People’s Republic to Nazi collaborators during World War II, saying in a statement that “We cannot calmly watch how, under the flags under which the fascists organized the massacres of Belarusians, Russians, Jews, [and] representatives of other nationalities, actions are being organized today in these sacred places”. His statement was considered to be unusually politicized and emotionally charged even for an agency like the defense ministry. Khrenin also declared to the military leadership that a military conflict may be unfolding that will require their assistance.”

This quote shows us that ideologically this Minister follows completely the Soviet pro-Russian propaganda fakes (“the fascist massacres under the Belarusian national flag”) and doesn’t have any sentiments towards Belarusian nation and its historical values. Those pro-Russian values he could get nowhere but from his military higher education experience in Russia. 

To sum up, the Belarusian Defense Ministry and its’ other forces agencies are totally under the control of the pro-Russian generals who graduated from Russian military schools or who have Russian-Soviet origins and don’t feel themselves tighten closely to Belarus, its people, and history. They were trained to receive orders from Moscow and to act only in Moscow’s interests.

All these officers got their positions after they have been pointed to them by Alexander Lukashenka and in full accordance with him. As an anti-national dictator who is providing anti-Belarusian and pro-Russian politics in Belarus, he needs to be surrounded by these generals who won’t think twice if they receive an order to shoot Belarusians. Protesters with national historical white-red-white flags are seen by them as a threat to the interests of the new Russian Empire. As a puppet state, Belarus should remain in the closest possible orbit to Moscow and these people are responsible for it

Marlon Parker

US – Belarus