The authoritarian leader of Belarus has defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said in an interview with the Associated Press that he was doing “everything” to end the war.
Local resident Alexander Lukashenko also said he does not expect Russia’s “operation” in Ukraine to “draw on in this way.”
He said: “I haven’t delved deep enough into this issue to say whether it’s going according to plan, as the Russians say, or how I feel.
“I want to reiterate that I feel this operation has dragged on.”
He also claimed that Ukraine was “provoking Russia” and insisted that Belarus stood for peace.
“We categorically do not accept war. We have and are doing everything now so that there is no war.
“Thanks to you – that is me – negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have started.
“But why is Ukraine – on whose territory there is a war, military actions, people are dying – why is Ukraine not interested in these negotiations?”
Mr Lukashenko also said it was “unacceptable” to use nuclear weapons but could not say if Russia had such plans.
“Not only is the use of nuclear weapons unacceptable because it’s right next to us — we’re not across the ocean like the United States is — it’s also unacceptable because it could send our terrestrial ball flying out of orbit to who knows where could,” he said.
“Whether or not Russia is capable of this is a question you must ask the Russian leadership.”
Moscow dispatched troops to Belarusian territory under the pretense of military exercises, and then sent them to Ukraine as part of the invasion that began on February 24.
Mr Lukashenko publicly supported the operation, claiming in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in early March that Ukraine was planning an attack on Belarus and that Moscow’s offensive prevented it.
He said he took a map to show Mr Putin where the alleged attack was to take place from but offered no other evidence to support the claim.
Earlier this week, the Belarusian military announced quick drills that raised concerns in Ukraine, but Mr Lukashenko assured the AP on Thursday the drills would not threaten anyone.
“We are not threatening anyone and we will not and will not threaten anyone,” he said.
“Besides, we cannot threaten – we know who is against us, so it is absolutely not in the interests of the Belarusian state to unleash a conflict, some kind of war, here in the West. So that the West can sleep peacefully.”
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/belarus-leader-lukashenko-defends-russian-invasion-of-ukraine-and-says-he-was-doing-everything-to-stop-war-41616801.html Belarusian leader Lukashenko defends Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and says he did “everything” to end the war