It was clear that Lukashenko had zero interest in joining the war. His army is only 20,000 strong, and if you thought Russia has been a hot mess, Lukashenko’s army was far worse—it’s essentially designed to keep him in power and little else. He would dramatically move his sad forces here and there, like pawns on a chess board. But when Putin pressed the heaviest, Lukashenko would make some stupid declaration like “Russia is right, NATO is a threat, Poland is about to invade!” and rush his troops to his western border. A stupefied Putin could only watch helplessly.
Russian scholar Kamil Galeev wrote this great thread on Lukashenko, arguing that while he plays the buffoon in public, he’s actually a master manipulator, able to keep Putin on a leash for over 25 years.