BELARUS SEALS BORDERS, PUTS ARMY ON HIGH ALERT
Belarus’ president, beleaguered by six weeks of mass protests demanding his resignation, he was putting troops on high alert and closing the country’s borders with Poland and Lithuania, Yuras Karmanau reported for the Associated Press (AP).
President Alexander Lukashenko’s decision underlines his repeated claim that the wave of protests is driven by the West. He faces increasing criticism from the United States and the European Union.
Protests began after the Aug. 9 presidential election that official results say gave the authoritarian leader a sixth term in office; opponents say the results were manipulated. Lukashenko’s latest actions came after Russia promised him military aid to buttress his regime.
“We are forced to withdraw troops from the streets, put the army on high alert and close the state border on the west, primarily with Lithuania and Poland,” Lukashenko said at a women’s forum. He added Belarus’ border with Ukraine would be strengthened. “I don’t want my country to be at war. Moreover, I don’t want Belarus and Poland, Lithuania to turn into a theater of military operations where our issues will not be resolved,” he said. “Therefore, today in front of this hall of the most beautiful, advanced, patriotic people I want to appeal to the peoples of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine — stop your crazy politicians, don’t let war break out!”
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