Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said Minsk is not seeking conflict with Nato amid growing tensions between Russia and the west.
The longtime Kremlin ally told Associated Press that Vladimir Putin is not seeking a war with Nato and urged the West to ensure that one doesn’t happen.
“He most likely does not want a global confrontation with Nato. Use it. Use it and do everything for that not to happen. Otherwise, even if Putin doesn’t want it, the military will react,” the Belarusian leader said.
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Regarding the prospect of a Belarusian attack on the west after its military announced snap drills that raised concerns in Ukraine, Mr Lukashenko said his country does not threaten anyone.
“We do not threaten anyone and we are not going to threaten and will not do it. Moreover, we can’t threaten – we know who opposes us, so to unleash some kind of a conflict, some kind of war here in the West is absolutely not in the interests of the Belarusian state. So the West can sleep peacefully.”
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President Lukashenko defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said he was doing “everything” to stop the war adding that he didn’t think Russia’s “operation” in Ukraine would “drag on this way.”
“But I am not immersed in this problem enough to say whether it goes according to plan, like the Russians say, or like I feel it. I want to stress one more time, I feel like this operation has dragged on,” Mr Lukashenko said.
He also alleged that Ukraine was “provoking Russia” and insisted that Belarus stands for peace.
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“We categorically do not accept any war. We have done and are doing everything now so that there isn’t a war. Thanks to yours truly, me that is, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun,” he said.
“But why is Ukraine, on whose territory a war in effect is ongoing, military action, people are dying, – why is Ukraine not interested in these negotiations?”
Mr Lukashenko publicly supported the operation, alleging at a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in early March that Ukraine planned to attack Belarus and that Moscow’s offensive prevented that.
He said he brought a map to show Mr Putin from where the alleged attack was supposed to take place, but offered no other evidence to back the claim.
New British intelligence claimed Thursday that Russia may use the massing of Belarusian troops to “inflate the threat” to Ukraine in the North, preventing them from being committed to the battle for the Donbas.
The update added, however, that the massing of Belarusian troops is in line with seasonal norms as the nation enters the culimination of its Winter Training cycle in the month of May.
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