VLADIMIR Putin could launch a desperate assault on Ukraine from Belarus in a wild gamble to save his failing invasion.
Fears are mounting that the humiliated Russian tyrant is plotting to open a new northern front as Ukraine's battle-hardened troops tighten the noose around his army.
Putin already used Belarus – his closest military and political ally – as a staging ground for his brutal February invasion.
And strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko has so far resisted pressure to get more involved in the Russian dictator's shambolic war.
But Ukraine has warned that the likelihood of a fresh assault from the north is now rising as desperate Putin masses 9,000 troops on the Belarus border.
Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov said: "The threat of resuming the offensive on the northern front by the Russian Armed Forces is growing."
Read more on the Ukraine war
Tyrant ‘will blow up Kherson dam’ and create ‘historic disaster’ says Zelensky
Ukraine warned to brace for blackouts as Russian bombs target energy facilities
Last week, Lukashenko said he and Putin have formed a new military force of 70,000 Belarusian troops and up to 15,000 Russians.
Almost 170 battle tanks, 200 armoured personnel carriers, artillery and aircraft are arriving in his country as part of the "joint force".
The escalation comes as Mad Vlad tries to regain control of his invasion as his crumbling military face being pushed back on all fronts.
His underequipped and ill-disciplined troops are currently struggling to fight back the fierce Ukrainian army in the southern region of Kherson.
Most read in News
Boris arrives in UK with support from top MPs including Priti Patel to be next PM
Plane crashes into apartment block killing everyone onboard in inferno
Boris jets back from holiday in bid to wrestle back the keys to No10
Inside The Gambia's sex tourist industry where Brit grans bonk toyboys
As Zelensky's men continue their lightning counteroffensive, they have been getting closer to the Black Sea city and the Russians have been driven back by up to 20 miles in the last few weeks.
Retired US Army Major Mike Lyons said opening up a new front in the north would force Ukraine to redeploy soldiers to defend the border – and give Putin room to fight back in the east and south.
And he warned that a new front in the north of Ukraine could open up a fresh battle for the capital Kyiv.
"Opening up that second front would be important – it would force the Ukraine military to respond with some level of troops," he told CNN.
"There's talk of a joint taskforce between Belarus troops and Russian troops, so if you take 15,000 Russian troops and you bring them up to Belarus and combine them with their military of 20,000 or 25,000 of them, you've got a formidable 40,000 force there.
"Ukraine would have to send 15,000 to 20,000 troops at least to try and make sure nothing happens there. It would distract them from their counteroffensives in the south.
"This is all about mobilisation – Russia is having a challenge with mobilisation in the south, but they could quickly mobilise in the north and get troops there.
"What that would mean is a quick access into Kyiv. Russia lost that battle four or five months ago, but they could possibly retry that battle again.
"Ukraine troops were there, but they have since been deployed to the south. They would have to get more troops back there, using constabulary forces, use other units to keep Kyiv safe."
Britain’s Defence Ministry said the flurry of military activity in Belarus is “likely an attempt to demonstrate Russian-Belarusian solidarity and to convince Ukraine to divert forces to guard the northern border".
But Lyons warned that Lukashenko could face an uprising if his troops get involved in Putin's war.
Russia is having a challenge with mobilisation in the south, but they could quickly mobilise in the north and get troops there
"Lukashenko is aligned with Putin, however the Belarusian people are not aligned with this war," he said.
"They could have the same internal problems and easily overthrown there in that country."
Others also warned the move from Lukashenko would be a big risk.
Valery Kavaleuski, a former Belarusian diplomat, told the New York Times: "It would be suicidal, a very bad idea but who knows what they might do."
Latvia's defence minster Artis Pabriks added: "Lukashenko is trying to manoeuvre in an increasingly narrow space.
"Obviously Putin is trying to bring Belarus more into his war against Ukraine, but Lukashenko understands that would be the end of his time if he did this."
Many Western officials believe the role of Belarus will be to train up new Russian conscripts before sending them over the border into Ukraine.
Vadym Skibitsky, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, said several thousand newly mobilized Russian soldiers have nowbeen deployed in Belarus at training sites.
But he said they do not currently have the artillery or logistical support needed to invade and face Ukraine's fierce troops.
“We see these elements now moving into Belarus, but we do not see the movement of equipment,” he told the New York Times.
Meanwhile, tensions appear to be rising as Ukraine’s General Staff claimed it knew of "multiple cases of conflicts" between Russian and Belarusian soldiers deployed near the border.
The General Staff said the clashes have reportedly been sparked by "Russians’ insolent attitude toward Belarusians".
Russian lines are said to be dramatically collapsing in Ukraine – with a former NATO commander claiming it could be Russia's biggest military disaster for 100 years.
Read More on The Sun
We built a tiny house in our garden & Airbnb it out for £2,500 a month
I’m a mum and I earn £10.6k a month with my side hustle…I work an hour a day
In a fresh package of moves to counter battlefield defeats, Putin announced a new special coordinating council to work with Russia's regions to boost Moscow's war effort.
And he also declared martial law in four partially occupied regions of Ukraine that Russia claims as its own and restricted movement in and out of regions near Ukraine.
Source: Read Full Article