Belarus explains its role in Russia–Ukraine conflict
Belarus is a participant of the Russian military operation against Ukraine, President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday, stressing that its role was strictly limited.
“We are not hiding this. But we do not kill anyone. We do not send our troops anywhere. We do not break our obligations,” the Belarusian leader said during a government security meeting, as quoted by state news agency Belta.
“Our role is to prevent this conflict from spreading into the territory of Belarus, first of all. And, secondly, it is to prevent a strike against Belarus from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia under the cover of the special military operation,” he added.
Belarus, a long-time military ally of Russia, allowed its troops to use its territory to launch an offensive against Ukraine in late February. Minsk has rejected claims by officials in Kiev that its troops were directly engaged in action against Ukrainian forces.
During the Tuesday meeting, Lukashenko further described Ukraine’s participation as ensuring that “nobody would shoot Russians in the back from the territory of Belarus”. He also stated that his country offered medical assistance and food to people, Russians and Ukrainians alike.
“Most of all, we feed the refugees, those impoverished poor people who arrive to us from Ukraine, numbering 400 to 500 each day. How can we not feed them and treat them?” he asked.
Lukashenko assured that his country would not get involved in the Ukraine crisis beyond what he had outlined. He dismissed as baseless claims by some of his critics that the Belarusian government was preparing a military mobilization following a similar move by Moscow. Russia announced enrolment of some reservists into active military service last month.
The Belarusian president urged the military to use the Russian experience to keep the national armed forces ready for a possible call to defend the country.
“So learn, learn and once again learn. First of all, learn the military profession in a proper way,” he instructed officials, using two quotes from Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, which were popular in the Soviet Union.
He also reiterated his assessment that Russia would be willing to cease hostilities with Ukraine, while other parties fueled the conflict with “concrete steps.” He pointed the finger at the US, which he said continues sending planeloads of military equipment for the Ukrainian military to Poland and other NATO members.