Putin Ally admits that friendly relations saved the country from Russian invasion

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday that the lack of cordial relations with Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin may have put Belarus in the same position as Ukraine.

Lukashenko spoke during a meeting on issues of Belarusian and Russian cooperation, BelTA news agency reported. The meeting comes ahead of a summit between the two nations due to take place in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Monday.

“We will never be Russia’s enemy,” Lukashenko said. “And will never give Russia the cold shoulder. This is the country closest to us, our closest peoples. I think as long as we are in power we will continue this trend. If it had been different, it would have been like Ukraine.” .”

Lukashenko said his country belongs to Russia but “as a sovereign and independent state,” adding that it controls its own territory.

Putin Lukashenko Russia Ukraine Belarus War Allies
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) attends the Eurasian Economic Summit November 9 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (right) speaks during the Eurasian Economic Summit November 9 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Lukashenko said on Friday Belarus could have taken Ukraine’s position if it hadn’t been friendly to Russia.
Contributor/Getty Images; Contributor/Getty Images

Since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Belarus has emerged as one of Russia’s closest strategic allies as Putin faces rebuke from the West. Lukashenko has publicly supported the Russian leader and even allowed Russian troops to invade Ukraine from the Belarusian-Ukrainian border, allowing closer access to the capital, Kyiv.

“I say this with absolute sincerity: with all the difficulties, if the Russian Federation – the leadership – wants to establish relations with the sovereign independent state of Belarus, if Russia perceives us as a sovereign and independent state, but a very close, very reliable, where everything Russian – from the language to the Russian traditions – is revered, we are ready to build ties,” Lukashenko said on Friday. “Nevertheless, we should always assume that we are a sovereign and independent state.”

Rumors have been circulating in recent months that Belarus is interfering militarily in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Ukrainian officials had previously warned Belarus that the country would respond “as harshly as we respond to any invaders on Ukraine’s territory.”

Even if Minsk soldiers received orders to join the war effort, the UK Ministry of Defense has expressed uncertainty about Belarus’ influence in this theoretical scenario. Meanwhile, in a report earlier this week, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) claimed that Belarusian involvement remains “extremely unlikely”.

This would have potential long-term consequences for Belarus itself, Javed Ali, a University of Michigan professor specializing in international politics and diplomacy, said earlier news week.

“This entails considerable risks for the Belarusians. Look at the beatings the Russian military is facing in Ukraine,” Ali said. “Belarus is such a small country. It has such limited military resources. The loss of a few hundred soldiers or a few thousand would be devastating for them.”

Artyom Shraibman, a non-resident Carnegie Endowment for International Peace scholar, previously said news week that he sees “no evidence” of any coercion by Putin.

He said several indicators actually illustrate Minsk-Moscow economic ties, noting that Putin is giving in to numerous demands from Lukashenko – such as giving him even cheaper oil than before, restructuring old loans, issuing new ones and giving access to Russian Ports for Belarus to realign its sanctioned exports.

“The narrative that Lukashenko resists a mythical pressure from Moscow is very popular, I know,” said Shraibman, originally from Belarus but now based in Poland. “But the evidence is there [sic] simply not available. At least to my eyes.”

As part of next week’s summit, Lukashenko said Belarusian and Russian officials will primarily discuss economy and “talk about the military-political situation in our states.”

https://www.newsweek.com/putin-ally-admits-friendly-relationship-saved-country-russian-invasion-1767859 Putin Ally admits that friendly relations saved the country from Russian invasion

Rick Schindler

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