President Alexander Lukashenko has said Belarus would “only” join Russia’s offensive in Ukraine if his country, which hosts Russian forces, was attacked first by Kyiv’s army.
“I’m ready to fight together with the Russians from the territory of Belarus in one case only: if so much as one soldier from (Ukraine) comes to our territory with a gun to kill my people,” Lukashenko said in a rare press conference with foreign journalists in Minsk.
Lukashenko, who has repeatedly denied claims from Kyiv and the West that his country could be dragged further into the war in Ukraine on the side of Moscow, also said he planned to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
Russia used Belarus as a staging post for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, launching its failed offensive on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv from the country. A flurry of military activity and joint air force drills between Russia and Belarus earlier this year rekindled concerns that Minsk could be preparing to take a more active role in the conflict.