Lukashenko responds to nuclear rumors
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has dismissed the possibility of nuclear weapons being deployed to Belarus in a conversation with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron. Lukashenko called speculation to the contrary “fake.”
In a call on Saturday evening, the two leaders discussed the military conflict between Russian and Ukraine, as well as relations between Moscow and Minsk, according to the readout of the call published on the Belarusian president’s website.
The pair also touched on the issue of potential weapon deployments to Belarus, including that of nuclear weapons, with Lukashenko dismissing the scenario as “fake.”
“If the people of Belarus are not suffocated, there cannot be any talk not only about nuclear weapons, but also about conventional weapons,” Lukashenko reportedly told Macron.
In its own readout of the call, the Elysee said that Macron “made a point of denouncing the seriousness of a decision which would authorize Russia to deploy nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil.”
The French president also called on Lukashenko “to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Belarusian soil as quickly as possible,” calling on him to “cooperate with the international community” on Ukraine.
The Belarusian leader said he was willing to host both parties to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict “at any time, in any place in Belarus” for ceasefire talks.
Moscow previously proposed Minsk as a site for negotiations with Kiev. The Kremlin claimed on Friday that the Ukrainian side suggested moving the meeting to Warsaw, Poland, only to break off communication afterwards.
Since then, both Moscow and Kiev have insisted that they were ready to negotiate a ceasefire, with the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying that Kiev has never walked away from talks.
On Saturday, however, the Kremlin again accused Kiev of refusing to sit down for talks. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed that the Russian military operation had been halted on Friday to allow for negotiations, but would resume since the talks were no longer on.
There have been conflicting reports as to whether the possibility of talks with Moscow is still being entertained by Kiev as of Saturday evening. Alexey Arestovich, an adviser at Zelensky’s office, told Ukrainian media that Kiev declined the talks with Moscow, arguing that the terms proposed by the Kremlin were “an attempt to force us into capitulation.” Shortly afterwards, another Zelensky adviser, Mikhail Podolyak, told the Russian media that Ukraine had not refused to negotiate, but would reject “unacceptable or ultimatum-like conditions of the Russian side.”