Days after rekindling fears that he would send his army to back Russian soldiers in Ukraine, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has issued a warning against putting his important partner “into a corner,” claiming that Russia has nuclear weapons for a reason.
“The most important thing is, don’t drive your interlocutor and even your opponent into a corner,” said the leader in an interview with NBC that were aired by Belarus’ national news agency on Friday.
“So you mustn’t cross those lines – those red lines, as the Russians say. You can’t cross them.”
Since a string of setbacks for Vladimir Putin’s forces in Ukraine changed the tide of the battle in Kyiv’s favor, there has been growing concern that Putin may use nuclear weapons.
As for nuclear weapons, Lukashenko, who has controlled Belarus since 1994, was cited as saying that “any weapon is a weapon created for something.”
“Russia has clearly outlined its position: God forbid there will be an attack on the territory of the Russian Federation; in that event, Russia can use all types of weapons if necessary,” the leader added.
Although Lukashenko has no influence over Putin’s military choices, his remarks helped to highlight the rising tensions as the war approaches the conclusion of its ninth month.
The United Nations General Assembly strongly denounced Putin’s unilateral declaration of four Ukrainian regions as part of Russia last month. Putin has pledged to use all available methods, including nuclear weapons if necessary, to maintain Russia’s “territorial integrity.”
Separately, Lukashenko declared that due to tensions on its borders, he had put Belarus in what he called a state of increased “terrorism” alert.
He said that this move was related to the order he gave on Monday for Belarusian troops to join Russian forces near the southern border of Belarus with Ukraine.
Belarus is politically and financially dependent on its main ally, Russia. Late in February, Lukashenko gave Russia permission to use his nation as one of the bases from which to invade neighboring Ukraine.
As a result of its most recent army movements, Ukraine and the West are worried that Lukashenko may be preparing to send Belarusian troops to support Russia’s waning war effort.
Political observers have stated that although it is not his preferred course of action, if Putin demands it, he might not have a choice but to comply.
Support from the Russian president enabled Lukashenko to withstand large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations in 2020. The protests were put down by Lukashenko, and all prominent opposition figures were either imprisoned or made to quit the country.
This week, Lukashenko also asserted that Ukraine was preparing to attack Belarus, warning it not to approach “even one metre of our territory with their dirty hands.” His defense minister, Viktor Khrenin, likewise cautioned Ukraine not to antagonize Belarus, stating, “We don’t want to fight,” and later emphasizing that the joint force is for defense.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, responded by claiming that his nation was not preparing military operations against Belarus and charging Russia of attempting to “directly draw Belarus into this war.”
Image Credit: Getty
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