If Belarus falls, Russia will be next, says Lukashenko

WION Web Team
Minsk, Belarus Published: Sep 08, 2020, 10.32 PM(IST)

Lukashenko and Putin Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already vowed military support for embattled Belarusian leader, although it would not be deployed unless unrest there spun out of control.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday suggested that Russia would be next if his regime falls in the face of a wave of mass demonstrations.

"You know what we concluded with the Russian establishment and leadership? If Belarus falls, Russia will be next," state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Lukashenko as saying in an interview with several Russian media.

Also read: Russian President Putin vows military support for Belarus' Lukashenko

He also said he may have stayed in power as president a little too long, but said he was the only person capable of protecting the country for now.

Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994 and claimed victory in a contested August 9 presidential election which his opponents say was massively rigged.

Also read: EU to impose sanctions on 31 senior Belarusian officials over recent election: Report

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already vowed military support for embattled Belarusian leader, although it would not be deployed unless unrest there spun out of control.

The 65-year-old Belarusian strongman's relationship with Putin had soured ahead of the ballot because Minsk refused closer integration with Russia and even claimed Moscow had sent mercenaries across the border to organise riots. Russia sees Belarus as a strategic buffer against NATO and the EU.

The neighbours had signed an agreement in 1999 which was supposed to create a unified state. The unification project was never properly implemented and more recently Lukashenko had rejected calls by Moscow for closer economic and political ties as an assault on his country's sovereignty.

Russia has been wary of unrest on its borders since Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution, Ukraine's 2003-04 Orange Revolution and 2014 Maidan protests, events in which it says the West backed the protesters.

The European Union is set to impose economic sanctions on 31 senior Belarusian officials. The list will include Belarus’ interior minister, and will be put out by mid-September, three EU diplomats claimed.

 

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