Belarus President Defends Russia's Ukraine Invasion But Admits The War ‘Drags On’

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MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko defended Russia’s penetration of Ukraine successful an interrogation Thursday with The Associated Press, but helium said helium didn’t expect the 10-week-old struggle to “drag connected this way.”

He besides spoke retired against the usage of atomic weapons successful Ukraine but wouldn’t accidental if Russian President Vladimir Putin had plans to motorboat specified a strike.

Lukashenko said Moscow, which launched the penetration of Ukraine connected Feb. 24 — partially from his territory — had to enactment due to the fact that Kyiv was “provoking Russia.”

“But I americium not immersed successful this occupation capable to accidental whether it goes according to plan, similar the Russians say, oregon similar I consciousness it,” helium said successful the astir 90-minute interrogation astatine Independence Palace successful Minsk. “I privation to accent 1 much time: I consciousness similar this cognition has dragged on.”

Lukashenko’s enactment of the warfare has prompted planetary disapproval and sanctions against Minsk. Some Russian troops were sent from Belarusian territory into Ukraine, and Lukashenko has publically stood by his longtime ally, who has pumped billions of dollars into shoring up his Soviet-style, state-controlled system with inexpensive vigor and loans.

But speaking to the AP, Lukashenko said helium and his state basal for bid and repeatedly called for the extremity of the “war” — a word the Kremlin refuses to use, calling the penetration a “special subject operation” instead.

“We categorically bash not judge immoderate war. We person done and are doing everything present truthful that determination isn’t a war. Thanks to yours truly, maine that is, negotiations betwixt Ukraine and Russia person begun,” helium said.

Lukashenko said utilizing atomic weapons successful Ukraine was “unacceptable due to the fact that it’s close adjacent to america — we are not crossed the water similar the United States.”

“It is besides unacceptable due to the fact that it mightiness sound our terrestrial shot flying disconnected the orbit to who knows where,” helium said. “Whether oregon not Russia is susceptible of that — is simply a question you request to inquire the Russian leadership.”

Russia “can’t by explanation suffer this war,” Lukashenko said, noting that Belarus is the lone state lasting by Moscow, portion “as galore arsenic 50 states person joined forces” connected Ukraine’s side.

He added that Putin isn’t seeking a direct struggle with NATO, and the West should guarantee that 1 doesn’t happen.

“He astir apt does not privation a planetary confrontation with NATO. Use it. Use it and bash everything for that not to happen. Otherwise, adjacent if Putin doesn’t privation it, the subject volition react,” the Belarusian person warned.

The 67-year-old Lukashenko called Putin his “big brother” and said the Russian person doesn’t person “closer, much unfastened oregon friendlier relations with immoderate of the satellite leaders different than the president of Belarus.”

Their narration has been peculiarly adjacent precocious but was rocky successful earlier years. Before a disputed 2020 predetermination sparked wide protests and a home crackdown by Lukashenko, helium often accused the Kremlin of trying to unit him to relinquish power of prized economical assets and wantonness his country’s independence.

Faced with pugnacious economical sanctions aft helium brutally suppressed the protests, the Belarusian person started emphasizing a request to jointly antagonistic Western unit and met with Putin regularly, stressing their adjacent ties.

Lukashenko’s enactment of the penetration has stopped abbreviated of deploying his ain troops there, but it inactive has drawn disapproval from the Belarusian absorption and calls for much sanctions connected him and the country. Opposition figures accidental mean Belarusians don’t enactment the invasion. Hundreds of them who unrecorded successful Ukraine person been affected by the war, and immoderate person go volunteers, warring alongside Ukrainian forces.

The Belarusian person told AP that his state poses nary information to others, adjacent arsenic its subject conducted drills this week.

“We bash not endanger anyone and we are not going to endanger and volition not bash it. Moreover, we can’t endanger ― we cognize who opposes us, truthful to unleash immoderate benignant of a conflict, immoderate benignant of warfare present ... is perfectly not successful the interests of the Belarusian state. So the West tin slumber peacefully,” helium said.

He blamed the West — particularly Washington — for fueling the struggle betwixt Russia and Ukraine.

“The U.S. wants to prehend the moment, tying its allies to itself, and drown Russia successful the warfare with Ukraine. It’s their extremity — to benignant retired Russia, and past China,” helium said.

Lukashenko said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was taking orders from the United States.

“Today it’s not Zelenskyy who’s moving Ukraine – nary offense, that’s my constituent of view, possibly I’m wrong,” Lukashenko said, adding that if U.S. President Joe Biden said so, “everything volition halt wrong a week.”

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Follow the AP’s sum of the warfare astatine https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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