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Belarus' Lukashenko asks for Russian security guarantees

April 10, 2023

The Belarusian leader called for Russia to defend Belarus "as its own territory." Belarus hosts a contingent of thousands of Russian troops.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko speaking with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has appealed for security guarantees from Moscow in a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei ShoiguImage: Andrei Stasevich/AP/picture alliance

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has called for Russia to defend Belarus in the event of an attack, state news agency Belta reported on Monday.

Lukashenko made the statement following a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the Belarusian capital Minsk, Belta said.

What did Lukashenko say?

The Belarusian strongman said that Minsk required "full security guarantees" from Moscow.

Belta cited Lukashenko as saying that he had discussed the issues with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had agreed that security guarantees for Minsk needed to be formalized.

"In general, it sounded at the talks [with Putin] that in the case of aggression against Belarus, the Russian Federation would protect Belarus as its own territory," Lukashenko said.

"These are the kind of security [guarantees] we need," he stressed.

He also thanked Moscow for keeping thousands of Russian troops on Belarusian territory.

Belarus currently hosts a contingent of Russian forces, and also served as a staging ground for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in the early days of the war. Lukashenko said that Belarus has no intention of committing troops to Russia's invasion, but will respond to any incursions onto its territory or attempts to spark unrest.

Ukraine criticizes 'weird desires'

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, criticized Lukashenko's request in a tweet, calling them "weird desires."

The Ukrainian official compared Lukashenko's appeal for Russia to "an antelope asking for security guarantees in the crocodile's mouth." He said that the "only existential threat" to Belarus is "absorption" into the Russian Federation and Moscow's "nuclear antics."

In February, a number of Western news outlets reported the leaking of an alleged Russian document that purported to show plans by the Kremlin to annex its ally Belarus by 2030.

Lukashenko says West violates Budapest nuclear treaty

Lukashenko said that Western countries were "trampling on" security guarantees stipulated by the Budapest Memorandum.

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their Soviet-inherited nuclear weapons under the 1994 memorandum. The treaty was also signed by Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Belarusian leader argued that the memorandum had been violated by sanctions on Belarus and Russia, as they undermined the economic security of the two countries.

Kyiv and its allies have also accused Russia of violating the memorandum by claiming to annex Ukrainian territory.

Late last month, Putin announced that Russia intended to station tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory. Belarusian experts started nuclear weapons briefings last Tuesday.

sdi/fb (Reuters, EFE, dpa)

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