On Monday, the Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Belarusian counterpart to celebrate closer ties. Putin visited Minsk to celebrate his first visit since 2019. However, he did not mention conflict in Ukraine during a news conference.
In February, Russian forces attacked Kyiv in Ukraine using Belarus. Since then, Russian military activities there have been.
Serhiy Nayev is the commander of Ukrainian joint force forces. He stated that he believes Minsk negotiations will address “further aggression against Ukraine and the wider participation of the Belarusian Armed Forces to the operation against Ukraine in general, but also on ground.”
However, neither Putin nor Alexander Lukashenko spoke to journalists about the war. He repeatedly said that his country would not be drawn into Ukraine.
The two ex-Soviet states, which were formally allies in an obscure Union, turned their attention to closer economic, industrial and defense alignment.
Most of Belarus’ political opposition are now living in exile, jail, or silence. They are worried about a Russian annexe, or “absorption”, that could be devastating for their smaller Slavic neighbour. The sweeping Western economic sanctions have also had an impact on Russia.
Both Putin and Lukasenko rejected the idea.
Putin said that Russia does not want to take on anyone. This is not an expediency issue. It’s not a takeover. It is a matter of policy alignment.
Ned Price, spokesperson of the US State Department was asked about the comment. He said it should be considered the “heights irony” because it came out of a leader who wants to violently absorb his peaceful neighbour at the moment.
He stated that Washington would continue to closely monitor whether Belarus offers additional support for Putin and would respond “appropriately” if it did.
Lukashenko called Putin once an “older brother”, but later praised Russia as a friend that “held its hands to us”, providing Belarus oil, and gas at a discount price.
He stated that Russia can manage without us, but we can’t (manage) Russia without Russia.
Even though Putin met Lukashenko many times this year, it was Putin’s first trip to Minsk since the COVID Pandemic. This wave of pro-democracy protests which Lukashenko defeated during 2020 and the COVID pandemic.
There are fears in Kyiv that Putin may pressure Lukashenko into opening a new front in Russia’s faltering invasion of Ukraine. This has fueled fears that Lukashenko might be a pariah in the West and that he relies on Putin for his survival.
Valery Zaluzhniy, the top Ukrainian general, told The Economist that Russia had 200,000 troops available for a major offensive. It could come from the east, south or Belarus. It is more likely that it will arrive in spring.
Minsk, Moscow established a Belarusian joint military unit. They also participated in many exercises. Three Russian warplanes and an airborne early warning/control plane were sent to Belarus last week.
Russian media outlets heard Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s representative, describe suggestions that Moscow wanted Minsk join the conflict as “stupid and unfounded fabrications”.
After a larger meeting that also included their defense and foreign ministers, the one to one meeting between Putin and Lukashenko was held.
Although the veteran Belarusian leader claimed there was an agreement on a new price for Russian gas, he refused to provide details until his government had discussed it.
He thanked Putin, and promised to upgrade Belarus’ Russian-built military aircrafts as well as to provide Belarus with nuclear-capable Iskander-M tactical missile systems to defend itself against what he called the West’s threat.
He stated, “You’ve made a decisive move towards Belarusian security.”
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