Belarus says dozens of Ukraine-trained militants were arrested, Kyiv demands proof

On March 21, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that “several dozen militants” were arrested. He claims that they were trained in Ukraine. “We have already arrested several dozen, who have trained in camps with weapons. Incidentally, one of the camps was in the Babruysk and Asipovichy region. The rest of the camps were in Ukraine, in my opinion, in Lithuania or in Poland – I won’t make any claims, but somewhere there. Money came through Poland and Lithuania to us. At this hour we literally detained a few dozen militants who were preparing an armed provocation,” the state Belarusian agency BelTA cites the Belarusian president as saying during his working trip in the Mogilev region.

Later Oleg Slobodyan, press secretary of the State Border Service of Ukraine, said that until the circumstances of what happened are explained, Ukraine and Belarus have tightened security measures at the state border sites where the incident took place, according to the Belarusian president.

“We received a message from Belarusian colleagues that an unknown vehicle had tried to break through the border from Ukrainian territory into Belarus. We immediately started checking this information. As a result, it was tentatively established that the vehicle in question, with a Belarusian registration, did not cross the Ukrainian border in either direction,” Slobodyan reported.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has requested that the Belarusian law enforcement agencies explain what Lukashenko meant about the supposed operation of several “militant training camps” in Ukraine. Oleksandr Tkachuk, Chief of Staff to the Head of the SBU, made a statement in this regard.

“Our service has sent an official request, and we are waiting for additional information from our colleagues. For now, we have no detailed information except what was heard from the President of Belarus,” Tkachuk said at a briefing on March 22. He also mentioned that the information about the supposed breakout of a vehicle from Ukraine into Belarus has not yet been confirmed.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has also reacted to Lukashenko’s statement, calling the Belarusian leader’s statements about the training of “armed militants” in Ukrainian territories provocative, and not in line with reality.

“We draw attention to the fact that Belarus’s partner in the Union State, the Russian Federation, in the context of hybrid aggression, developed entire training camps for mercenaries and militants in its own territory, as well as in the occupied Ukrainian lands. By supporting and exporting terrorism, Russia is deliberately undermining stability and security in the region which both Ukraine and Belarus form part of,” the Foreign Ministry’s press release states.

Kyiv also reiterated that Ukraine has given the International Court of Justice abundant evidence of “Russia’s support and financing of terrorism in the occupied territories of Ukraine”.

“We are willing to be involved in close international cooperation, to oppose any manifestation of terrorism, even in Belarus,” the statement notes.

  Belarus, Ukraine, militants