External pressure on Belarus unacceptable, Putin tells Western leaders
Iran Press TV
Tuesday, 18 August 2020 6:35 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Western leaders that exerting pressure on the Belarusian leadership would be unacceptable, as violent protests continue against Belarus' newly re-elected President Alexander Lukashenko.
According to a press release issued by the Kremlin on Tuesday, Putin in a phone conversation warned his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, that attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Belarus might lead to a further escalation of the political crisis in that country.
The Russian president also made similar remarks when he discussed the ongoing protests in Belarus with German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier in the day.
President of the European Council Charles Michel also spoke to the Russian leader on the eve of an emergency summit of the bloc's leaders to discuss Belarus.
Michel tweeted afterwards that, "Only peaceful and truly inclusive dialogue can resolve the crisis in Belarus."
Earlier this month, Lukashenko won Belarus' presidential election by a landslide, securing a sixth term in office. His political opponents then organized protests, claiming voter fraud.
Western countries made similar allegations.
The European Union (EU) has threatened to re-impose sanctions against Minsk, although Belarus is not a member of the bloc. The United States has been leading the foreign calls on Lukashenko to hold a repeat election.
The Belarusian president has expressed concern about the foreign meddling and the NATO military presence near his country and warned that foreign governments seek to destabilize Belarus.
Lukashenko has also urged against continued violence, calling the preservation of nationwide security his top priority.
Formerly accusing Moscow of attempting to meddle in the election, Lukashenko recently turned to President Putin for help in a major volte-face.
During a phone call on Saturday, the Russian president told Lukashenko that his country was ready to offer "comprehensive help" to Belarus if necessary in accordance with a collective military alliance pact.
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