President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko may have given away Russia’s invasion plan on live TV, with the footage going viral on social media.
At a conference with members of the Security Council and top officials of the Council of Ministers on March 1, Lukashenko stood in front of a map of Ukraine which appears to show military facilities destroyed by missiles from Belarus, attack directions and Ukraine divided into four sectors.
Analyst Tadeusz Giczan wrote on Twitter that it “looks like an actual invasion map” of Ukraine.
One Twitter account mentioned that the four sectors denote the operational commands of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Map showing the four operational commands - Operational Command South is highlighted in green
Other Twitter users were quick to point out that Moldova appears to be included in Russia’s invasion plans, prompting fears that the small republic will also be dragged into this war.
A red arrow pointing from the southern port city Odesa leads into Eastern Moldova, in the unrecognised breakaway state Transnistria where Russian troops have been stationed for decades.
Invasion plans for Transnistria
Other red arrows indicate lines of advancement into Kyiv, Kherson, Brovary and Dnipro, which have all been under attack over the last few days. Russian troops recently claimed victory over Kherson, as reported by the BBC.
Some questioned the validity of the footage, which, if true, would be a massive political blunder from Lukashenko. Social media users pointed towards invasion plans targeting the unhit city Zhytomyr in western Ukraine. However, massive shelling struck Zhytomyr that evening.
If the map is accurate, then it would appear the invasion is not going as planned. Russia has failed to take major cities such as Kyiv, Dnipro and Odesa.
Olexander Scherba, the former Ukrainian ambassador to Austria, wrote on Twitter that Russian warships were about to launch a landing on Odesa beaches on February 28, but suddenly withdrew when Ukrainian troops were about to retaliate. He claims “marines from Crimea refused to attack Odesa”.
This was confirmed by Ukraine’s Centre for Defence Strategies, who also announced members of Russia’s 810th Detached Marine Brigade are in a “demoralised state."
Photos circulating this morning on social media show a line of destroyed Russian military vehicles in Bucha, Kyiv Oblast. A senior US defence official reports that the huge Russian convoy outside Kyiv has stalled, likely due to Ukrainian resistance, fuel problems, lack of food, or re-evaluation.
However, the Kremlin has increased the ferocity of its military campaigns, with bne IntelliNews sources reporting the worst shelling in Kyiv and the surrounding cities on March 1.
Rockets hit the Kyiv TV tower on March 1, taking down the TV signal in the capital as Russian troops target key communication centres. Residential areas were also bombed, including Rusanivka.
During the Security Council meeting yesterday, Lukashenko announced the deployment of five tactical battle groups to Ukraine’s border but said they will not take part in the offensive, instead focusing on the protection of Belarus’ borders from Ukrainian and Nato troops.
However, Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko tweeted that Belarusian troops have already crossed into Ukraine via Cherniv on March 1. A source told bne Intellinews that the Ukraine border guard service was informed of a small number of Belarusian troops in the country; however, that has not been verified by Belarus or the US.
Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin have a close relationship, with Russian troops and weapons having entered Belarus for alleged “military exercises” in January.
The Belarusian leader, often described as Europe's last dictator, has faced domestic difficulties recently. Thousands of citizens took to the streets of Belarus in 2020 in protest against the fraudulent election. Lukashenko responded with heavy force and violence, resulting in mass arrests and injuries.
Lukashenko’s opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, released a video on Twitter yesterday condemning the war in Ukraine and calling for Belarusian troops to “switch sides” and support Ukraine.