The Belarusian Defense Minister estimates that the militia set up on the orders of President Lukashenko will have 100,000-150,000 volunteers.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced on February 20 that he ordered the creation of a new territorial defense force so that people would know how to use weapons, be ready to respond to aggression and maintain order and peace in peacetime.
“I have repeatedly said that everyone, not only men, should at least know how to hold a gun to protect their family, home, farm, and country if necessary,” Lukashenko told the Belarusian Security Council. “If aggressive behavior occurs, we will respond quickly, decisively, and appropriately.”
Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin estimates the newly formed militia will have between 100,000 and 150,000 members, likely higher due to many volunteers.
“We are monitoring the development of the conflict in Ukraine and see the need for such a force in addition to the Belarusian defense system,” Khrenin said. “The immediate and most important task of the militia is to protect homes and properties, as well as coordinate with the police.”
Belarus has about 48,000 professional soldiers and 12,000 border guards, according to the 2022 statistics of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (CSIS). President Lukashenko said the newly formed militia could act as a reserve and transform into a guerrilla movement in the event of war.
Belarus National Security Council Chairman Alexander Volfovich said the newly formed militia was a new type of unit, tasked with defending the country if needed. Volfovich stressed that Belarus does not threaten anyone, but is ready and taking all measures to protect its western and southern borders.
Belarus is an ally of Russia and once allowed it to use its territory to attack Ukraine in early 2022. The European Union (EU), the United States and some Western countries imposed sanctions against Belarus for their support. Russia’s military campaign.