Film Exposes Belarusian Firms Supplying Russian Military

Опубликовано: 23 Май 2024

Belarus TenkBelarus continues to provide parts for the tenks used in the Russian war against Ukraine, despite international sanctions. (Photo: BelPol/Youtube/screenshot, License)

Belarus’ exiled political opposition has welcomed revelations from former security officers who defected, and have now presented evidence of Belarusian firms supplying Russia with military components critical to its war against Ukraine.

The evidence was included in a documentary called Weapon Baron, which was released on Sunday by BelPol. The online media organization is made up of former members of Belarus’ military, police and intelligence services.

Belpol obtained documents showing how Belarusian firms have set up companies offshore to dodge sanctions and ship supplies to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

“This proves the regime's ongoing complicity in Russia's aggression,” said opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

Tsikhanouskaya ran against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenka in 2020 elections that were largely seen as rigged. The announcement of Lukashenka’s victory sparked the largest protests in Belarus’ history, which were brutally quashed by security forces. Tsikhanouskaya and members of her party fled the country amid the crackdown.

Lukashenka allowed Russia to stage part of its February 2022 invasion from Belarus, sending troops over its border into Ukraine. Lukashenka has since stated that his country would not enter the war, according to the Belarusian state news agency Belta, and even reportedly called for peace talks between Ukraine and Russia.

The Belpol investigation shows that Belarus has also been critical for ensuring that the Russian military had access to important material.

“This documentary is important evidence of Lukashenka’s complicity in the Russian war against Ukraine,” said Franak Viačorka, Tsikhanouskaya’s senior advisor.

“It will help to bring the regime and its perpetrators to account,” he told OCCRP. “Also it can help to close the loopholes in the current sanctions.”

In one segment, the film focuses on SOE Peleng JSC, which is 49 percent owned by the Belarusian state, and Shenzhen 5G High-Tech Innovation Co., Limited, a China-registered firm. The U.S. has sanctioned both companies.

Belpol obtained documents showing how Peleng uses Shenzhen 5G to source materials from China, which it uses to manufacture “panoramic sights” for tanks.

The sights are installed on Russian tanks, providing heightened surveillance capability. Russian tank crews can zero in on Ukrainian targets from five kilometers away, even at night or in poor weather.