“Sim, some units [do exército russo] crossed the border into Ukraine”, he said, in an interview given to exiled Ukrainian journalist Diana Panchenko – former ‘pivot’ of the pro-Russian NewsOne channel, closed by Kiev -, released on the digital platform YouTube.
Until now, Belarus, Russia’s closest ally in its war against Ukraine, had never publicly admitted that it had allowed Moscow to use its territory to attack the neighboring country.
Lukashenko urged the journalist to ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “why Russian troops crossed the border between Belarus and Ukraine through the Chernobyl region”.
“We, Russians and Belarusians, were carrying out military maneuvers, in January and February, common, scheduled maneuvers (…). When the exercises ended, Russia began to withdraw its troops, units from the eastern military districts, and part of these troops started to cross the border with Ukraine,” he reported.
Although the West has been warning for months of Russian intentions to attack Ukraine, “for many, it was a surprise”, commented the Belarusian President.
“And for us it was a surprise,” he added.
“No one can complain to me about anything, not a single Belarusian soldier crossed the border. But you (the Ukrainians) provoked us: four Ukrainian units armed with Tochka U missiles were positioned next to our border. Long before February 24”, dates when the Russian offensive began, he underlined.
According to Lukashenko, these Ukrainian units aimed the missiles at Belarusian territory, but “the Russian military destroyed them when they entered” the country.
“They accused us of having promoted the beginning of the war. But no, the war was already underway. And you unleashed it, the Ukrainians unleashed it, the war with Belarus. The economic war, above all”, he sentenced .
He recalled that Ukraine decreed an air blockade of Belarus “before the Europeans did it” and seized thousands of wagons with Belarusian fertilizers in the port of Odessa, on the Black Sea.
The Belarusian head of state defended that “this (the war) could and should have been avoided” and stressed that any negotiation between Kiev and Moscow must start “without prior conditions”.
The military offensive launched over a year and a half ago by Russia in Ukraine caused, according to UN data, the worst refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War (1939-1945).
The invasion – justified by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, with the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security – was condemned by the international community in general, which has responded by sending arms to Ukraine and imposing it on Russia of political and economic sanctions.
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