Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that the Belarusian armed forces are not participating in the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
“That is what I have read: ‘The state border of Ukraine with Russia and Belarus was attacked at about 5 a.m. [02:00GMT] by Russian troops backed by Belarus.’ Our troops do not take part in this operation,” Lukashenko told an emergency military meeting in Minsk, as quoted by Belarusian news agency Belta.
Lukashenko added that he offered Russian President Vladimir Putin to leave a part of Russian troops in Belarus after the joint drills, held in February, as Minsk was unable to defend its southern border.
“I offered Putin to leave a part of the Russian armed forces in southern Belarus during the last meeting in Moscow. Why? I am not ashamed to say that we were not ready to cover the southern direction in this situation, because the Ukrainian military units – not border troops – had advanced to the border and started conducting maneuvers there. We saw that, but we never had any troops there. That is why I proposed that a small part [of Russian troops] be left there on the southern borders until we can replace them with our own armed forces,” Lukashenko said.
Lukashenko added that Putin supported this idea by saying, “You’re right, we should leave them. This is another chance for the deranged politicians in Ukraine to make the appropriate conclusions. Maybe they would realize that they need to sit down at the negotiating table and make decisions about peace. Brotherly peoples should not wage wars.”
Lukashenko also said that the Ukrainian military leaders had been warned of a possible Russian military operation.
“Tonight, before the operation, he [a representative of the military leadership of Ukraine] asked for a talk. I said, ‘Talk to him.’ You offered him, on my behalf, that after the meeting with [Russian] President Vladimir Putin, our Belarusian President recommends him to immediately contact Russian Defense Minister [Sergei Shoigu] and the Russian General Staff in order to prevent this massacre. Did he call there? He did not. Knowing that there might be a conflict, he did not even call Moscow,” Lukashenko said, as quoted by Belta.
The president added that the situation along the western and southern borders of Belarus has changed, that is why he called the emergency military meeting in Minsk.
“The situation along western and southern borders has changed. I am grateful to everyone. I know no one slept this night,” Lukashenko told a military meeting in Minsk, as quoted by the Telegram channel Pul Pervogo close to Lukashenko’s press office.
Earlier, the Ukrainian parliament approved on Wednesday increasing the country’s defense budget for 2022 by $314 million to $1.3 billion, in a session broadcast by parliamentary television.
“The bill plans increasing expenses for Ukraine’s defense. As such, it suggests increasing expenses for the budgetary program ‘Development, purchase, upgrades and repairs of weapons, military equipment and materiel’ by 9,096 billion hryvnias [$314 million] from 28.4 billion hryvnias [$980 million] to 37.5 billion hryvnias [1.3 billion],” an explanatory noted read.
The situation in Ukraine’s Donbas region has escalated in recent days, with the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics (DPR and LPR) reporting increased shelling by Ukrainian forces and ordering general mobilization in anticipation of an offensive by the Ukrainian army. The evacuation of Donbas citizens, first of all, women, children and the elderly, to the Rostov region began late last week.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees recognizing the independence of the DPR and LPR.
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