Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he did not expect Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to “drag on this way”. Belarus is a staunch ally of Russia and has allowed Russian forces to use the country as a base of operations to launch attacks against Ukraine. Minsk also provides transport and logistical support for the Russian military.
Lukashenko told the Associated Press that he was doing “everything” he could do to stop the war, which commenced on February 24th when Russia launched its invasion, partially from Belarusian territory.
“I want to stress one more time: I feel like this operation has dragged on,” he said.
Lukashenko portrays himself as an intermediary between Moscow and Kyiv.
“We have done and are doing everything now so that there isn’t a war,” Lukashenko said. “Thanks to yours truly, me that is, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun.”
He also added that to him, Putin is a “big brother”, and that Putin doesn’t have “closer, more open or friendlier relations with any of the world leaders other than the president of Belarus.”
He described the use of nuclear weapons as “unacceptable” but noted that he is unsure if such a strike by Russia were a possibility.
“Not only is the use of nuclear weapons unacceptable because it’s right next to us — we are not across the ocean like the United States. It is also unacceptable because it might knock our terrestrial ball flying off the orbit to who knows where. Whether Russia is capable of that — is a question you need to ask the Russian leadership.”
On Wednesday, Belarus started conducting military exercises, stating it was testing the military’s response to crises. On Thursday, the British defense ministry said it did not view the exercises as a threat.
Lukashenko said he does not plan to send his troops to Ukraine to fight alongside Russian forces.
“We do not threaten anyone and we are not going to threaten,” the Belarusian president said. “To unleash some kind of a conflict, some kind of war here in the West is absolutely not in the interests of the Belarusian state. So the West can sleep peacefully.”