Belarus To Join Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine
A US defence official disclosed that the Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, who is a known ally of Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is preparing to send his country’s soldiers into Ukraine in support of the Russian invasion, perhaps as soon as this week.
Belarus has already been used as a staging post by Russian forces, who gathered there on the pretext of joint military exercises before last week’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Now there is increasing evidence that Minsk may be moving towards becoming an explicit participant in the war.
On Monday, it announced it was revoking its non-nuclear status after a referendum, allowing Russian weapons to be placed in Belarus. The move provoked rare protests in the country.
Last week the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, said the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, was allowing his country to become a Russian satellite state, and on Sunday night the US official said: “It’s very clear Minsk is now an extension of the Kremlin.”
Russian and Ukrainian delegations were due to hold talks about the conflict in southern Belarus, near the Ukrainian border, on Monday.
The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said on the Telegram app that his delegation had arrived, including the defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, a close adviser to the president and the deputy foreign minister.
“The key issue of the negotiations is an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from the territory of Ukraine,” Zelenskiy’s office said.
Military sources stated that Belarusian special forces were seen loading onto airplanes in preparation for an air assault on Kyiv in what could be a widening of the war.
Images have emerged in recent days of trains loaded with tanks reportedly arriving in the city of Brest, in south-west Belarus, and there have been reports of missile and aircraft launches from within Belarus.
On Sunday, Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian internal affairs minister, said Iskander missiles had been launched from Belarus towards Ukraine. He posted a video showing a missile being fired reportedly towards the Rivne region bordering Belarus.
In a recorded message, Zelenskiy appealed to Belarus on Sunday to stay out of Russia’s war. “In the war that is going on now, you are not on the same side with us. From your territory, the troops of the Russian Federation launch rockets into Ukraine.
“Our children are being killed from your territory, our houses are being destroyed, they are trying to blow up everything that has been built over decades – and, by the way, not only by us, but also by our fathers, our grandfathers.
“And all this is also a de facto referendum for you, Belarusians. You decide who you are. You decide who to be. How will you look into the eyes of your children, how will you look into the eyes of each other, your neighbours. We are your neighbours. We are Ukrainians. Be Belarus, not Russia. You are making this choice right today.”
About 800 people were arrested as Belarus voted to ditch its non-nuclear status – meaning it could potentially host Russian weapons. The vote sparked the biggest protests in months as thousands took to the streets.
On Sunday, Lukashenko said he could ask Russia to return nuclear weapons to Belarus. “If you [the west] transfer nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, to our borders, then I will turn to Putin to return the nuclear weapons that I gave away without any conditions,” Lukashenko said.
Belarusian president also promised Ukrainian president by phone Sunday that he would hold back on sending in his forces until the outcome of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials that are expected near the River Pripyat, on the Belarusian border.
KanyiDaily had reported how Russian President, Vladimir Putin ordered a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, killing hundreds of people and wounding thousands.