Russia says ready for military help as violent anti-Lukashenko protests rage in Belarus
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 16 August 2020 2:26 PM
Russia says it has told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko it is ready to offer military assistance as violent protests continue against Lukashenko and his contested re-election in the ex-Soviet republic.
The Kremlin said on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Lukashenko that his country is ready to offer "comprehensive help" to Belarus if necessary, in accordance with a Russia-led collective military alliance that covers such incidents.
During a phone call on Saturday, the Belarusian and Russian presidents also said the turmoil that has followed the recent presidential election will be remedied soon and not left out for exploitation by the parties that seek to poison the two countries' relations.
Earlier this month, Lukashenko won Belarus' presidential polls by a landslide, securing a sixth term in office.
Large-scale rioting ensued by, what he has called people with criminal pasts and the unemployed.
The European Union has threatened to re-impose sanctions against Minsk although Belarus is a non-member.
The United States has wasted no opportunity, in the meantime, to take Minsk to task too, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying during recent interventionist remarks that Belarusians should be given "the freedoms that they are demanding."
Lukashenko denies losing, citing official results that gave him just over 80% of the vote.
On Sunday, Lukashenko's supporters gathered in central Minsk for the first time since the election to voice their support for him and watch his speech.
Lukashenko expressed concern about the US-led NATO military drills taking place in neighboring Poland and Lithuania, describing them as a military build-up.
He said NATO tanks and planes had been deployed 15 minutes from the Belarusian border.
"NATO troops are at our gates. Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and our native Ukraine are ordering us to hold new elections," he said, adding that Belarus would "die as a state" if new polls were held.
"I have never betrayed you and will never do so," he said.
Lukashenko has previously urged against continued violence, calling preservation of nationwide security his top priority.
On Thursday, Russia said outside forces are clearly attempting to destabilize neighboring Belarus.
"Clear attempts at outside interference are observed, aimed at causing a split in society and destabilizing the situation," Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a press conference on Thursday, adding the Kremlin is following the situation closely.
"We note unprecedented pressure that is being exerted by individual foreign partners on the Belarusian authorities," Zakharova added.
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