NewsBelarus opens military ranks to prisoners amid Ukraine conflict

Belarus opens military ranks to prisoners amid Ukraine conflict

Łukashenko follows in Putin's footsteps. From cell to front
Łukashenko follows in Putin's footsteps. From cell to front
Images source: © Getty Images | Anadolu
6:42 AM EDT, April 8, 2024

A legal modification in Belarus now permits prisoners to engage in contract service within the army, following a decision by the country's president, Alexander Lukashenko. There's widespread knowledge about the deployment of prisoners from Russian penal colonies to the conflict in Ukraine.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko endorsed a legislative act, among other provisions, permitting the use of SMS messages for military draft notifications.

Additional amendments include the obligation for those in military service to inform the draft board or a related authority about any changes to their contact phone number within a week.

A significant legal revision in Belarus also introduces the opportunity for individuals under investigation, those with previous convictions, and prisoners within penal colonies to be recruited for contract military service. Radio Free Europe was among the first to report this development.

Recruitment of prisoners from Russian penal colonies for warfare in Ukraine was managed by the private military company Wagner Group. The enlistment of inmates for battle stems from the perception that the Russian public is less dismayed by casualties among prisoners compared to losses among professional soldiers or those conscripted.

Despite declaring neutrality, NATO members could perceive Belarus's actions as provocative. Lukashenko has been a show of military might, positioning tanks along the borders with Lithuania and Poland.

Curiously, during his presence near the Lithuanian border, Lukashenko inquired the commander of the North-West Operational Command about the feasibility of assaulting the Suwalki Gap, a strategic link between Poland and Lithuania.

Consequences of evading military service

The law has increased the maximum penalty for dodging military service from two to three years in prison. Failure to attend recruitment events without a legitimate excuse will also result in a fine.

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