Ukraine: Belarus urged to refrain from aiding Russia by NATO
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Lukashenko, a long-time Kremlin ally, on Thursday said his forces had entered Ukraine to “free” Belarusian people — truck drivers — who were being captured there.
State-run news agency BelTA cited the president as saying: “It got to the point that these scoundrels began to capture our people there, primarily drivers…that happened to be there at the time.
“I warned the Ukrainians that we would be forced to carry out an operation to free these people. We carried out such a special operation and freed all our people.”
The 67-year old authoritarian leader on Thursday also said his country must be involved in negotiations to resolve the war in Ukraine and that he expected to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming days.
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According to BelTA, he told members of the Security Council at a meeting in Minsk: “There can be no separate agreements behind Belarus’s back.
“Since you dragged us into this — principally Western countries — the position of Belarus naturally needs to be heard at these negotiations.”
Lukashenko claimed Belarus’s armed forces are not taking part and will not take part in the military conflict started by Moscow on February 24, and asserted Belarus had been unfairly dubbed “an accomplice of the aggressor”.
The weekend before the beginning of the war, Lukashenko and Putin sat next to one another observing launches of missiles from the large screens in the Moscow headquarters of the Russian Defence Ministry.
Days later, Putin’s invasion was launched from both Russian and Belarusian grounds, as Minsk granted its territory as a staging post for the initial attacks.
Lukashenko has held onto power after an election widely condemned as rigged in his favour in which he insists he received 80 percent of the vote that granted him a sixth consecutive term as president.
The Kremlin helped Lukashenko forcibly put down mass pro-democracy protests alleging fraud in the election and get rid of what was left of the country’s political opposition.
The Belarusian leader last month confirmed, once again, where he and Putin stand.
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In an interview with the Japanese television channel TBS on March 19, he claimed: “He (Putin) and I haven’t only met as heads of state, we’re on friendly terms.”
Footage shared by state news agency BelTA shows him saying: “I’m absolutely privy to all his details, as far as possible, both state and personal.”
Although Minsk insists it is not a participant in the conflict, stressing “we do not need this war”, the EU, US and others have included Belarus in the sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia.
BelTA quoted Lukashenko as saying: “As a result of this conflict between two Slavic peoples, we are the ones who may suffer the most.”
Then, as he complained about Minsk not being part of rounds of peace talks between delegations from Kyiv and Moscow, which have been held in Belarus and Istanbul, he said: “Let them hold talks there.
“The main thing is for there to be a result. Because, I stress again, war causes great harm to Belarus.”
He argued the talks in Istanbul were the result of “pressure from the West on Ukraine, not to go to Belarus at any cost”.
Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, going a step further, said Lukashenko himself “must participate in the [final] meeting”.
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