Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said Belarus and Russia will deploy a joint military task force in response to what he called an aggravation of tension on the country’s western borders, according to the state-run Belta news agency.
Lukashenko said on Monday the two countries had started pulling forces together two days ago, apparently after the explosion on a bridge linking Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.
The announcement came as Russian missiles struck multiple cities across Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, for the first time in months.
“I’ve said already that today Ukraine is not just discussing but planning strikes on the territory of Belarus,” state news agency Belta quoted Lukashenko as saying during a meeting with security officials. He did not provide any evidence for the claim.
“We have agreed to deploy a regional grouping of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus,” he added.
Lukashenko did not specify where the troops would be deployed.
The president said Belarus “must have plans in advance to counter all kinds of scoundrels who are trying to drag us into a fight”.
“There should be no war on the territory of Belarus,” he added.
Belarus relies financially and politically on its key ally Russia.
Russian forces used Belarus as a staging post for their February 24 invasion of Ukraine, sending troops and equipment into northern Ukraine from bases in Belarus.
Ukraine doesn't pose a threat to Belarus. It's a lie by Lukashenka to justify his complicity in the terror against 🇺🇦. He also violates our national security. I urge the Belarusian military: don't follow criminal orders, refuse to participate in Putin's war against our neighbors. pic.twitter.com/SYQB2qtfIp
— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) October 10, 2022
In a Twitter post later on Monday, exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said “Ukraine doesn’t pose a threat to Belarus”, calling it a “lie” by Lukashenko “to justify his complicity in the terror” against Ukraine.
“I urge the Belarusian military: don’t follow criminal orders, refuse to participate in Putin’s war against our neighbors,” she wrote.