Belarus Leader Admits Russia's War In Ukraine 'Drags On'
Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an interview Thursday, May 5, 2022, with Ian Phillips of the Associated Press (AP) but he said he didn’t expect the 10-week-old conflict to “drag on this way.”
Photo Insert: Belarusian leader and close Putin ally Aleksander Lukashenko’s support of the war has prompted international criticism and sanctions against Minsk
He also spoke out against the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine but wouldn’t say if Russian President Vladimir Putin had plans to launch such a strike. Lukashenko said Moscow, which launched the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 — partly from his territory — had to act because Kyiv was provoking Russia.
“But I am not immersed in this problem enough to say whether it goes according to plan like the Russians say, or like I feel it,” he said in the nearly 90-minute interview at Independence Palace in Minsk.
“I want to stress one more time: I feel like this operation has dragged on.”
Lukashenko’s support of the war has prompted international criticism and sanctions against Minsk. Some Russian troops were sent from Belarusian territory into Ukraine, and Lukashenko has publicly stood by his longtime ally, who has pumped billions of dollars into shoring up his Soviet-style, state-controlled economy with cheap energy and loans.
“We categorically do not accept any war. We have done and are doing everything now so that there isn’t a war. Thanks to yours truly, me that is, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun,” he said.
Lukashenko said using nuclear weapons in Ukraine was “unacceptable because it’s right next to us — we are not across the ocean like the United States.”
“We do not threaten anyone and we are not going to threaten and will not do it. Moreover, we can’t threaten -- we know who opposes us, so to unleash some kind of a conflict, some kind of war here ... is absolutely not in the interests of the Belarusian state. So the West can sleep peacefully,” he said.
He blamed the West — especially Washington — for fueling the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
“The US wants to seize the moment, tying its allies to itself, and drown Russia in the war with Ukraine. It’s their goal — to sort out Russia, and then China,” he said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is taking orders from the US.
“Today it’s not Zelenskyy who’s running Ukraine – no offense, that’s my point of view, maybe I’m wrong,” Lukashenko said, adding that if US President Joe Biden said so, “everything will stop within a week.”