Russia's Belarusian army
In the 2010s, Minsk lost the remnants of its independent defence capabilities and completely ceded the initiative to Moscow in this regard, remaining content with the appearance of sovereignty. The process of Belarusian-Russian military integration is one-sided; its aim is to adjust the military potential of Belarus to the standards and operational needs of the Russian Armed Forces in the western strategic direction. This process is now so advanced that Belarus cannot be perceived as an independent player in the regional security situation, and should now be considered an integral part of the Russian security space, and its army and arms industry as an element of the Russian instrumentation.
The possible use of all or part of Belarus’s military potential will depend on Moscow’s military commitment, the next manifestation of which will be the ‘Zapad-2021’ exercise planned for September this year. From the perspective of Poland, and of NATO more broadly, this means that the actual border of Russia’s military activity is no longer at the Smolensk heights, but just a few dozen kilometres east of Białystok.