Belarus President claims credit for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine
Belarus’s authoritarian leader has defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said he was doing “everything” to stop the war, in an interview with the Associated Press.
President Alexander Lukashenko also said he did not expect Russia’s “operation” in Ukraine to “drag on this way”.
He said: “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.”
Thanks to yours truly - me, that is - negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun
He also alleged that Ukraine was “provoking Russia” and insisted Belarus stands for peace.
“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.
“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 also said it would be “unacceptable” to use nuclear weapons but could not say if Russia has such plans.
“Not only is the use of nuclear weapons unacceptable because it’s right next to us — we are not across the ocean like the United States – it is also unacceptable because it might knock our terrestrial ball flying off the orbit to who knows where,” he said.
“Whether or not Russia is capable of that is a question you need to ask the Russian leadership.”
Moscow deployed forces to Belarusian territory under the pretext of military drills and then sent them rolling into Ukraine as part of the invasion that began on February 24.
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 took 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.
Earlier this week, the Belarusian military announced snap drills that raised concerns in Ukraine, but Mr Lukashenko assured the AP on Thursday that the drills did not threaten anyone.
“We do not threaten anyone and we are not going to threaten and will not do it,” he said.
“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.”
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox