Few people are as familiar with Vladimir Putin as Alexander Lukashenko.
The authoritarian ruler of Belarus is a staunch supporter of the “special military operation,” as Mr. Putin refers to it, which is what the majority of the rest of the world refers to as Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
Mr. Putin hasn’t had a conversation with Western journalists since his extensive invasion of Ukraine a year ago.
Nonetheless, Mr. Lukashenko answered questions from a select number of foreign media, including the BBC, today in Minsk.
I reminded Mr. Lukashenko that last year, you permitted your nation to serve as a staging area for Russia’s invasion. “Are you ready to repeat that?”
He answered, “Yeah, I’m prepared. “I’m prepared to provide [territory] once more. I’m also willing to fight alongside the Russians from Belarusian soil. But only if someone from there (Ukraine) enters our area with weapons in order to kill my people, even if it’s just one soldier.”
There has been a rise in military cooperation between Russia and Belarus, as evidenced by joint exercises and the creation of a combined military organization. Yet, up to this point, the president of Belarus has refrained from sending his troops into Ukraine to fight with Russian forces.
Alexander Lukashenko is not recognized as the rightful leader of Belarus by the UK, EU, or the US. Belarusians flocked to the streets in 2020 to protest him for allegedly stealing the nation’s presidential election. The demonstrations were mercilessly put down.
Using the incident on Thursday, Mr. Lukashenko accused the West of starting the war in Ukraine.
He made accusations against Western nations for escalating the situation and displayed some Putinesque nuclear sabre-rattling.
He warned that if the situation escalated further, “you will receive nuclear weapons, and Russia has more than anyone.”
“Thus, you need to stop. In the event of a nuclear exchange, Belarus would vanish. Because the United States would also perish in a nuclear conflict, we need to sit down and negotiate. Nobody requires this.”
On February 16, 2023, Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, attends a news conference in Minsk.
SOURCE OF IMAGE: REUTERS
Belarus and Ukraine share a border, and when Russia started its invasion, it dispatched troops from there.
The leader of Belarus now asserts he can assist in peace negotiations despite having helped facilitate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine one year prior.
Since that US President Joseph Biden is scheduled to visit Poland the following week, Mr. Lukashenko said that would be a good moment to begin.
Mr. Lukashenko declared, “I invite [President Biden] to Belarus.” “A short thirty minutes will get him to Minsk from Warsaw. He may set down his aircraft here. The Russian president will be convinced to attend by me. Together with Biden, I extend to him an invitation to Minsk. We’ll discuss it and come to a decision together.”
The US president is likely to turn down the invitation. Mr. Lukashenko is not seen as an honest broker in this conflict.