Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus and one of Vladimir Putin’s closest international allies, has stoked tensions by putting his country on a war footing – a day after claiming the West was plotting a nuclear strike against his country. Putin’s sidekick Lukashenko – who hit headlines two years after his brutal suppression of protests which followed the 2020 Presidential election – issued his orders on the day the Russian President launched fresh missile attacks on Ukraine.
A statement carried on the Telegram channel of the Ministry of Defence of Belarus said: “Since October 11, the State Secretariat of the Security Council of the Republic of Belarus, in accordance with the President’s order, has been conducting an inspection of the Armed Forces of Belarus.
“It is complex in nature and covers the most important issues of checking the readiness to perform tasks as intended.
“During the inspection, military units and subdivisions will work out the issues of bringing them into combat readiness, marching, deployment in designated areas with training and combat tasks.”
The move comes a day after the 72-year-old met with his defence chiefs to discuss the security situation, immediately launching into a bizarre rant
During his opening remarks, he told them: “When we were in the Strategic Control Center of the Defense Ministry, you and I agreed that we would get together and once again discuss your proposals concerning the sphere of our security.
“We have to determine what else needs to be done in order to bolster the security of our country taking into account the rapidly changing situation.”
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“An opinion that the Belarusian army will be directly involved in the special military operation in Ukraine’s territory is being cultivated in the West.”
Without offering evidence, Lukashenko claimed: “Influenced by these leaks, the military political leadership of the North Atlantic Alliance and a number of European countries are already openly considering options for a possible aggression against our country, including a nuclear strike.”
Again without citing any proof, he added: “Today their goal is not to get us to fight on Russia’s side in Ukraine or, god forbid, carry out a nuclear strike and the rest.
“It is not the key target. The key target (it has remained the same since days of old) is to get us involved in the war while dealing with Russia and Belarus at the same time.”
Referring to the explosion which seriously damaged the Kerch bridge linking southern Russia to annexed Crimean, he accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of plotting an attack on his country.
Lukashenko said: “They said that it would be the Crimean Bridge 2. This information was immediately brought to my attention.
“My answer was simple: Tell the President of Ukraine and other insane people, if they are still there, that the Crimean Bridge will be just the thin end of the wedge to them, if only they touch a single metre of our territory with their dirty hands.
“This is your responsibility, consider this an order for you.”
Lukashenko, who has been Belarus’s President since 1994, launched a brutal crackdown following the recent election amid wide-spread allegations of vote-rigging.
Opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya claimed to have won between 60 and 70 percent of the vote, but was forced to flee and is now exiled in neighbouring Lithuania.
Lukashenko’s regime has also been accused of torture, sexual abuse and other forms of repression.
In an unrelated matter, Polish operator PERN today said it had detected a leak in one pipeline in the Druzhba system which carries oil from Russia to Europe,and which crosses Belarusian territory, adding to concerns about Europe’s energy security after the Nord Stream gas pipeline leak.
Mateusz Berger, Poland’s top official in charge of energy infrastructure, said: “Here we can talk about accidental damage.”
He emphasised that there were no grounds to believe the leak was caused by sabotage.