Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday strongly defended Russian actions in Ukraine, claiming that if Russia was “just a little late with its military operation, the Russian territory would have suffered a crushing attack at its borders.”
“If somebody wishes to scream that we went somewhere we shouldn’t have, started something we shouldn’t have, just imagine what you would have had happened had you been at least two weeks or one month late,” Lukashenko told reporters during a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin following a meeting between the two leaders in Russia’s far east Amur Region.
Some context: There is no evidence that Ukraine was going to attack Russia. Since last year, Russia was tightening its military grip around Ukraine, amassing tens of thousands of soldiers, as well as equipment and artillery, on the country’s doorstep. Russian forces held joint drills with their Belarusian allies before the invasion.
The Belarusian leader went on to blame “Washington, Brussels and London” for causing the crisis in Ukraine, and he said the economic sanctions against Russia were “psychological operations” organized by the United Kingdom. He also accused the US of instigating Poland and Baltic countries against Moscow.
“Our recent history has not seen such a dangerous moment in our relationship with the West as today. … Some of you said the Cold War is over and we shall live in a new civilized era based on mutual understanding and supremacy of international law. We thought so, but the West didn’t; they didn’t destroy us then, so they decided to start now,” he said.
Lukashenko also referenced Putin’s unfounded claims of “denazification” as part of his justification to invade Ukraine.
“There used to be a public figure in the West in the 30s, 40s of the last century who also tried to install a new order and we know well how that ended. So, I think Washington must return to the recent past. Our fathers and forefathers endured then and were victorious and so shall we be victorious as we have been in our common 1,000-year history,” he said.
Putin said Belarus was being “punched no less than Russia right now.”
“We never had any doubts that if somebody is to offer their shoulder to us it would be Belarus,” he said.
Regarding the effect of sanctions in destabilizing Russian-Belarusian ties, Putin said they are “completely futile.”
“This trick is definitely not going to work on us. We will only become stronger,” he said, adding that “the (damage) that our enemies were counting on has not happened.”
The measures agreed by the two leaders include projects for a common electrical power market, favorable prices for oil and gas for Belarusian domestic consumption — with payments in rubles, the joint construction of a nuclear power plant that should be commissioned by the end of 2021 and an increase in security on western borders, including joint military exercises.