Things continue to get messy in eastern Europe this week, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine drags on into its 11th month of abject horror.
The escalation of the conflict has continued to frighten the world at large, after the Kremlin originally predicted that the invasion would be over in 13 to 72 hours. Now, with Ukraine simply obliterating the Russian forces, there are fears that Vladimir Putin could exert clandestine pressure on puppet-nation Belarus in order to bolster his forces.
This week, Ukraine accused Russia of doing just that, all while Belarus attempted to blame Ukraine for a missile mishap.
Belarus summoned Ukraine’s ambassador Thursday after Minsk said it had downed a Ukrainian missile that had strayed over the border. Meanwhile Kyiv said it suspected Russia of creating a “deliberate provocation” amid the ongoing war.
The defense ministry in Belarus said an S-300 air defense missile was shot down over the village of Gorbakha in the Brest region north of Ukraine. Debris was found in an agricultural field near the village.
“The wreckage belongs to the S-300 anti-aircraft guided missile launched from the territory of Ukraine,” the Belarusian ministry said.
Ukraine had a much different idea.
The Ukrainian defense ministry neither confirmed nor denied Belarusian reports, but said it suspected a “provocation” by Moscow.
“Ukraine is aware of the Kremlin’s desperate and persistent efforts to involve Belarus in its aggressive war against Ukraine,” the ministry said in a statement.
“In this regard, the Ukrainian side does not rule out a deliberate provocation by the terrorist state of Russia, which laid such a route for its cruise missiles to provoke their interception in the airspace over the territory of Belarus.”
Russia has been accused of planning several “false flag” attacks throughout the duration of the conflict, as the Kremlin continues to look for some way to emerge victorious in this unwinnable war.