Lukashenko says Russia 'must be ready' to use nuclear arsenal
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Earlier this month, the Belarus President reaffirmed his support of Vladimir Putin’s war effort in Ukraine, emphasising during a visit to Moscow that Minsk supported and “will continue to support Russia” in its “fight against Nazism”. Lukashenko also emphasised that Belarus would “remain together with fraternal Russia”. But now he has taken a drastic step in his own country, with Belarus preparing additional restrictions on the exit of its citizens.
It would reportedly limit their right to leave the country for up to six months if it “contradicts the interests of national security”.
The Kyiv Independent wrote in a tweet: “Belarus preparing additional restrictions on exit of citizens.
“A draft law proposes to give the KGB the ability to limit citizens’ right to leave the country for up to six months if it ‘contradicts the interests of national security’, Belarusian Reformation reports.”
This comes with Lukashenko facing the possibility of a major military revolt amid growing concerns among his officer corps over Mink’s alignment with Russia and its backing for the war in Ukraine.
The Belarusian President’s recent comments reaffirming his support of Putin’s war effort in Ukraine has not gone down well at all with his military’s officer class.
In a stunning open letter addressed to Lukashenko, senior officers from the fifth brigade of the Special Forces warned him against sending Belarusian soldiers to fight in Ukraine, claiming such a move would amount to “pure suicide”.
They also accused Putin of “destroying our sovereignty” and in a further rebuke, reiterated their support for Ukraine, saying the two countries had always enjoyed friendly relations and denounced the Kremlin’s war as “totally unprovoked”.
The soldiers wrote: “At the present moment officers from the fifth brigade of the Special Forces have observed the most serious infringement of Clause One of the Belarus Constitution by Russia’s highest political leadership.
“According to this Clause, the Belarus Republic maintains supremacy and full authority on its own territory.
“It also enjoys independence over its internal and foreign politics.”
They continued: “Russia’s occupation of the internationally recognised territory of Ukraine, which is friend of our state, and its attempt to pull Belarus into a completely unprovoked war against a sovereign state can only be seen as the destruction of the sovereignty of Belarus.
“By entering the war against Ukraine, Belarus will be evicted from the community of civilised states and will be an international outcast for many years to come.
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“To join Russia in its fight against Ukraine would be an act of pure suicide.”
Separately, Lukashenko and close ally Putin have held a phone call to discuss a possible response to the latest actions from Lithuania.
The Kremlin said in a short statement on Telegram they had talked about “certain possible joint steps in connection with the illegal restrictions imposed by Lithuania on the transit of goods to the Kaliningrad region”.
This came after Lithuania widened restrictions on trade through its territory to Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad as the latest round of sanctions from the EU targeted at Moscow came into effect.
A spokesperson for Lithuanian customs said additional goods now barred include concrete, wood, alcohol and alcohol-based industrial chemicals.
Baltic port Kaliningrad was annexed by the Soviet Union from Germany after World War Two nearly 80 years ago and is joined to the the rest of Russia only through EU territory, mainly rail via Belarus through Lithuania.
Russia has been left furious by the ban and claimed it amounts to an illegal blockade, but Lithuania has insisted it has been left with little choice but to enforce the EU sanctions.
On Friday, Russia warned Lithuania and the EU it could adopt “harsh measures” against them if the transit of some goods to and from Kaliningrad did not resume “within the coming days”.
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