As Belarus' Ambassador Left Ukraine, a Biting Gift

A border guard tossed 30 pieces of silver at Igor Sokol
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2022 4:22 PM CDT

The indications that Belarus will join Russia in its war against Ukraine may be building. Belarus, which al-Jazeera calls "Russia’s oldest and staunchest post-Soviet ally," has removed all its diplomats from Ukraine in the past few days. As Belarusian Ambassador Igor Sokol passed through a border checkpoint, he was videoed speaking to a guard who tossed 30 pieces of silver at him—on orders from the chief of the state border guard service and in a nod to the Gospel account of Judas' betrayal of Jesus. Al-Jazeera reports the exit may be more than just a move in solidarity with Russian President Vladimir Putin but rather a precursor of what's to come militarily.

To that end, a NATO official on Monday told CNN that it's getting more "likely" that Belarus will join Russia's side in Ukraine. A Belarusian opposition source told CNN the country's combat units are prepped to enter Ukraine, though a Pentagon source contradicts that, saying there are as of yet no "indications that the Belarusians are preparing to move in." Still, former deputy chief of Ukraine’s General Staff Ihor Romanenko sees a "high possibility" Belarus will join in, but only alongside Russian reserves, which are being transported to the region from deployments elsewhere.

He tells al-Jazeera the likely goal would be to help Putin seize Kyiv; Russia convoys and troops are already closing in on Kyiv from Belarusian soil. The NATO official tells CNN the final say on the move rests with Putin: "It is not about what [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko wants. The question is: does Putin want another unstable country in the region? Involvement would destabilize Belarus." (Read more Belarus stories.)

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