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Putin not pushing Belarus to enter war with Ukraine, says Lukashenko

belarusian president alexander lukashenko gives an interview in minsk
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko gives an interview to Diana Panchenko, a pro-Russian Ukrainian journalist, in Minsk, Belarus, in this picture released August 17, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not trying to push Belarus into joining the war in Ukraine, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in an online interview published on Thursday.

“To involve Belarus … what will that give? Nothing,” said Lukashenko, one of Putin’s closest allies, whose country borders Ukraine, Russia and three NATO countries including Poland.

“If you Ukrainians do not cross our border, we will never participate in this war. In this hot war. But we will always help Russia – they are our allies,” he said in the interview with Diana Panchenko, a pro-Russian Ukrainian journalist.

Lukashenko also said he believed Putin had already achieved his goals in what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, and said the two sides should sit at the negotiating table and be ready to discuss all the issues, including the future of Crimea and other Ukrainian territories Moscow claims.

“Its (Russia’s) goals have already been fulfilled to date. Ukraine will never behave so aggressively towards Russia after the end of this war, as it did before the war,” Lukashenko said.

“Negotiations should begin without preconditions. This is a classic of any diplomacy. I think so. We need to sit down at the negotiating table and discuss everything. And Crimea, and Kherson, Zaporozhye, Donetsk and Lugansk. Everything there needs to be discussed,” he said.

Putin said Russia had to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine last year to protect its own security and that of native Russian-speakers, especially in eastern Ukraine, from what he said were “neo-Nazis” and ultra-nationalists in power in Kyiv.

Ukraine and its Western allies say this is nonsense and cast Russia’s invasion as an imperial-style land grab.

Lukashenko warned that Belarus would respond in the event of external aggression, including through the use of nuclear weapons that Moscow has stationed on its territory.

“There can be only one threat – aggression against our country. If aggression against our country starts from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, we will respond instantly with everything we have,” he said.

“Against Ukraine, if it commits aggression against us – not only nuclear weapons will be used. We have something besides nuclear weapons. And we will not warn you that if you cross the red lines, we will strike at the decision-making centres. This will be done without warning.”

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