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25 Jun, 2022 16:37

Russia trying to drag Belarus into conflict – Ukraine

Ukrainian intelligence claims that “massive missile shelling” from Belarus’ territory was a Kremlin “provocation”
Russia trying to drag Belarus into conflict – Ukraine

Russia is “dragging” Belarus into its military offensive against Ukraine, Kiev's top intelligence agency claimed on Saturday, commenting on the alleged shelling of several of its regions, which purportedly came from the territory of its northern neighbor.

In a statement on Facebook, the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry described what it called “a large-scale provocation by Russia for the purpose of further dragging Belarus into the war against Ukraine.”

It claimed that after 5am on Saturday, the Chernigov, Kiev and Sumy regions suffered “a massive missile shelling” by rockets fired by six Russian bombers from the city of Petrikov, Belarus, approximately 50-to-60 kilometres from the Ukrainian border.

This is the first case of an air strike across Ukraine directly from the territory of Belarus. Today’s shelling is directly related to the efforts of the Kremlin authorities to drag Belarus into the war in Ukraine as a direct participant,” the intelligence agency said.

It also added that on Friday “Russian sabotage groups” arrived at the city of Mozyr in Belarus with an intention to blow up local residential buildings, schools and hospitals.

Possible provocations can be presented as Ukraine's response to the air strikes,” the directorate warned.

Earlier it said that such provocation would ensure that President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko “will not be able to avoid participating in the war.”

Moscow and Belarus have not yet responded to Kiev’s allegations.Ukraine's northern military command said earlier in a statement that twenty rockets had targeted the village of Desna in the Chernigov region. Infrastructure was damaged but no casualties have been reported, according to the military.

The Ukrainian statements came on the day when Russian President Vladimir Putin meets his Belarusian counterpart President Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg.

Belarus is not officially involved in the current conflict in Ukraine but remains one of Russia’s key allies and provides Moscow with logistic support. President Lukashenko reiterated earlier this month that he had no desire to get involved in Ukraine and would not do so unless his hand was forced.

Since the beginning of the Russian attack on Ukraine, each side has been accusing the other of preparing provocations and staging events. Earlier this month Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed that Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) is plotting “another provocation with the use of hazardous chemicals” as part of Kiev’s smear campaign against Moscow.

Moscow and Kiev have also repeatedly blamed each other for targeting civilian infrastructure and for committing various war crimes.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.