In a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he would supply the country with Iskander missiles.
Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians had been hiding in a chemical plant in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk until Russian forces were able to force their surrender. Notably, they did not destroy the plant with the soldiers inside, but resources were used to take the helpless Ukrainian forces as prisoners.
The city was a major strong point for Ukraine in the eastern part of the country. Russian forces are now expected to focus on the city of Lysychansk, the last remaining strategic city in the east. If Putin’s army can defeat the remaining forces there, they will have complete control over the Donbas region.
Some of the missiles used in the region were fired from long-range TU-22 bombers that have been operating from Belarus. Putin and Lukashenko are longtime allies. The Russian president has promised to deploy the versatile Iskander missiles in Belarus, which can carry both conventional and nuclear weapons.
Although its troops have yet to cross the border, Belarus is playing an integral role for Putin during the invasion. It had served as a staging ground before the conflict began, and Lukashenko has also assisted in facilitating peace talks. The Western powers have levied sanctions on Belarus and excluded the country from the SWIFT global financial messaging system. With nothing to lose, expect Lukashenko to continue his support for the Russian effort.
This weekend, Russia also staged multiple missile attacks across the country, including the capital city of Kyiv. One of the strikes was in the city of Lviv, which is only 19 miles from the border of Poland, a NATO nation. Observers believe these attacks are an attempt to put pressure on Ukraine before the G7 Summit that is happening this week.
For most of the war, the western press has been extolling the strength of Ukraine’s military while downplaying Russian successes. As Putin continues to pile up victories and grind down opposing forces, the reality on the ground is becoming clearer.
A Russian victory is almost certain. The only thing that remains is how it will look and what it means for the rest of the world — and how the media will walk back their coverage.