US threatens Belarus with military move
Belarus will face a “swift and decisive response” from Washington if it allows Moscow to use its territory to invade Ukraine, the US State Department threatened on Tuesday, amid growing fears that a Russian military incursion is imminent.
Speaking to the press, State Department spokesman Ned Price called Russia’s “surging of troops into Belarus” a “cause for deep concern.” Moscow and Minsk are currently preparing for the Union Resolve 2022 joint exercises, due to begin on February 10.
As a result, troops from around Russia are currently redeploying westward, with many now near the Ukrainian border. Washington believes the exercises could be a pretense for an invasion.
“We’ve also made clear to Belarus that if it allows its territory to be used for an attack on Ukraine, it would face a swift and decisive response from the United States and our allies and partners,” Price said. “If an invasion were to proceed from Belarus, if Russian troops were to permanently station on their territory, NATO could well have to reassess our own force posture in the countries that border Belarus.”
The State Department spokesman also called the decision by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to allow a large number of troops onto his territory as an “affront to Belarus’s sovereignty.”
In response, a senior Belarusian official said that he found the suggestion of a US response “humorous.”
“There has never been any threat from the territory of Belarus and Russia,” Oleg Gaidukevich, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Parliament’s Committee on International Affairs, said on Wednesday. “Lukashenko has said more than once that we can come with tractors and combine harvesters and sow wheat to Ukraine’s fields so they can have a good harvest. No more than that.”
“And all these sanctions packages are imposed just for the fact that we exist. For the fact that Belarus and Russia are on the world map,” he said.
In recent months, Western news publications and leaders have accused Russia of placing 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, with some claiming that the Kremlin is planning an attack in the near future. Moscow has repeatedly denied all suggestions of a possible invasion.