Ukrainian Railways Chief Says 'Honest' Belarusians Are Cutting Russian Supplies By Train

Russian tanks on railway cars in Belarus shortly before the invasion on February 24.

There is currently no rail traffic from Belarus into Ukraine, and Russia is not using the railways between the two countries to bolster its invasion force in Ukraine, according to the head of the Ukrainian state railway.

“I recently appealed to Belarusian railway workers not to carry out criminal orders and not transport Russian military forces in the direction of Ukraine,” Oleksandr Kamyshin, director of the Ukrzaliznytsya state railroad, told Current Time.

Oleksandr Kamyshin

“At the present moment, I can say that there is no railway connection between Ukraine and Belarus. I cannot discuss details, but I am grateful to Belarus’s railway workers for what they are doing,” he said.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, a significant portion of Russian military supplies have been brought into Ukraine via the Homel-Kyiv rail line, the Ukrainian government has said.

On March 17, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych called on civilians in the conflict area to conduct a “railway war” against Russia by destroying rail lines and equipment, particularly in Crimea, other parts of southern Ukraine, eastern Ukraine, and near Belarus.

“Many people in northern Ukraine, in the areas of Sumy, Chernihiv, and Okhtyrka have carried out an excellent war in the enemy’s rear,” Arestovych said. “And it has immediately produced results. Now we should ask: Don’t we want to conduct an all-out railway war in the south?”

“Breaking the railway supply lines of the enemy -- which is the most efficient means of supply -- can radically change the situation in our favor,” he added.

Family members on an evacuation train say goodbye to a young man staying behind at the central train station in Odesa on March 6. The state railway is transporting about 60,000 Ukrainians per day from the south, north, and east of the country to destinations in the west.

In his interview with Current Time, the Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, Kamyshin praised “honest people” among Belarusian rail workers.

“I believe that among the Belarusians -- and particularly among the rail workers -- there are still honest people,” he said. “I don’t want to betray them. I am grateful to them for what is happing today…. And I am sure that the honest people in this organization will be able to stop the work of Belarusian railways regarding the transfer of military equipment in the direction of Ukraine.”

Since the war began, 41 Ukrainian railroad workers have been killed and 40 injured.

Kamyshin added that the Ukrainian railway was transporting about 60,000 Ukrainians per day from the south, north, and east of the country to destinations in the west of the country. About 20,000 people a day were being transported “to neighboring countries to the west,” he added.

“At the peak, we were transporting about 190,000 people a day…,” he said.

Kamyshin also said that Russian forces do not seem to be targeting railroad infrastructure.

“At present, train stations and trains remain the safest places in the country,” he said, although there have been some casualties as a result of stray shells.

Since the war began, he said, 41 railroad workers have been killed and 40 injured.

Robert Coalson contributed to this report.