I am hearing from many sources in Russian media and online, military, intel, and political experts, that Putin will invade neighboring Belarus next year.
Ties between Putin and the Belarusian dictator, Lukashenko, are getting very strained. Article from just today:
Belarus' Top Experts Ordered to Withdraw from Russian-Led Customs UnionPresident Alexander Lukashenko has ordered the country's top customs experts to withdraw from their posts at the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
The move follows Lukashenko's refusal to sign the EAEU Customs Code in December 2016 in St. Petersburg. The Belarusian president refused to attend the meeting alongside the EAEU's other members: Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia
“I did not sign the Customs Code because many things that should be there do not work. I also asked to recall our main specialists from its authorities,” Lukashenko announced on Wednesday. He also said that some elements of the new code "did not work."
An ongoing dispute focused on the Russian-Belarusian border has placed increasing strain on Moscow-Minsk ties in recent months.
Russian security services reintroduced customs and migrations checks along the border in the Bryansk, Smolensk and Pskov regions on Feb. 7, while Belarusian food exports have also come under scrutiny.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has criticized the decisions as damaging to bilateral ties. The Kremlin has dismissed concerns, arguing that increased security checks are only intended for non-Belarusian nationals.
Putin is said to be fucking sick of Lukashenko and his endless crap.
Many highly competent and well informed people in Russia are hinting there may be an "operation" against Lukashenko next year.
The way it couod go down, will be as follows. Pro-Russian "popular committees" will rise up in several Belarusian cities, where these folks are already secretly in place, including Brest, the home of the medieval fortress of same name where heroic Soviet troops in 1941 staged a legendary, immortalized, though doomed, of course, last stand against Nazi invaders. These popular committees will accuse Lukashenko of selling out to the West and betraying the ideals of the Slavic Orthodox Christian Russian World, and demand he step down. Lukashenko, being the despot that he is, will, naturally, order a crackdown on them. However, his military and secret police, KGB (yep, in Belarus, they kept the old name ), are highly infiltrated by the Russians, quite frankly, most if his generals, today, are loyal more to Moscow than to Minsk (their own capital). The actual Russian forces could sweep in, perhaps under pretext of defending their air base in Belarus. They and their local allies would crush any Belarusian forces who remain loyal to Lukashenko, and take down the man himself, arrest or even kill him. Then, a puppet government, perhaps a junta made up of those pro-Russian generals, is installed in Minsk. Or maybe even Belarus is annexed altogether, but I doubt that.
Belarus, as is, is evenly split on Russia. Some support Putin, others - the West and democracy. In Donbass, there are notable volunteers from Belarus fighting for both the pro-Russian rebels and for Ukraine. Hundreds of Belarusians on each side. The pro-Western nationalists may take up arms against the Russians, especially if Ukraine and perhaps Poland help provide them those arms. But they would have to deal with not only Russian military, but their own army and KGB, again, loyal to Putin, most of them; and, perhaps, also with their own fellow citizens, including those guys now among the rebels in Donbass, who could, with the Russians blessing, form own armed militias to support the "popular committees" and the "Russian World" against these "traitors"... Against such odds, they won't, I fear, last very long.
We shall see what transpires. I hope this doesn't actualky happen. But if, and when it does, what, I wonder, will Trump do? He has criticized Obama for being "weak" and allowing Putin take Crinea from Ukraine. What will he do, if Putin starts fucking up Belarus next year?