A senior official was quoted on Saturday as claiming that Belarus, a small Russian ally bordering Ukraine, had up to 1.5 million potential military men outside of its armed services.
President Alexander Lukashenko has assisted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in his year-long conflict with Ukraine, allowing him to invade from Belarusian soil and using Belarus as a training ground for Russian forces that have recently been mobilized.
Lukashenko this month ordered the formation of a new volunteer territorial defence force of up to 150,000 people. He has said his army would fight only if Belarus was attacked.
“The structures of the organisations, not the Armed Forces, will amount to somewhere up to 1.5 million people in the event of a declaration of martial law and the switch of the economy to a war mode,” said State Secretary of the Security Council Alexander Volfovich, according to the state BelTA news agency.
Belarus has a population of around 9.3 million. The country’s professional army has about 48,000 troops and some 12,000 state border troops, according to the 2022 International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance.