Associated Press interview: Belarus admits Russia’s war ‘prolongs’

MINSK, BELARUS (AP) – The authoritarian leader of Belarus said he did not expect Russia’s “operation” in Ukraine to last for long and claimed he was doing “everything” to stop the war.in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.

President Alexander Lukashenko defended the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24. However, he said he did not believe it would “continue to be this way”.

“But I am not immersed in this problem enough to say whether it is going according to plan, as the Russians say, or as I feel about it. “I want to emphasize once again, I feel that this process,” Lukashenko said during a nearly 90-minute interview at the Independence Palace in Minsk. It may be long overdue.”

He also claimed that Ukraine was “provoking Russia” and insisted that Belarus supported peace.

We categorically do not accept any war. We have done and are doing everything now so that there is no war. It is really thanks to you that negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun. ”

“But why is Ukraine, on whose territory a war is actually taking place, military action, people are dying – why is Ukraine not interested in these negotiations?”

Lukashenko also said that it would be “unacceptable” to use nuclear weapons, but he could not say whether Russia had such plans.

“Not only is the use of nuclear weapons unacceptable because it is right next to us – we are not across the ocean like the United States. It is also unacceptable because it could hit our globe flying out of orbit to who knows where,” Lukashenko said. “Whether Russia is capable or not – is a question you need to ask the Russian leadership.”

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Russia deployed its forces on Belarusian soil under the pretext of military exercises and then sent them to Ukraine as part of the invasion that began on February 24.

Lukashenko publicly supported the operation, claiming in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in early March that Ukraine was planning to attack Belarus and that Moscow’s attack prevented it. He said he had brought a map showing Putin where the alleged attack was supposed to have taken place, but he had not provided any other evidence to support that claim.

Lukashenko also told the AP that Putin is not seeking direct conflict with NATO, and urged the West to ensure that does not happen.

He probably does not want a global confrontation with NATO. use it. Use it and do everything so that this does not happen. Otherwise, even if Putin does not want it, the army will respond, ”said the Belarusian leader.

Earlier this week, the Belarusian military announced surprise maneuvers that raised concerns in Ukraine. However, Lukashenko confirmed to the Associated Press on Thursday that the exercises did not threaten anyone.

We don’t threaten anyone, and we don’t, and we won’t. Moreover, we cannot threaten – we know who is opposing us, so to launch some kind of conflict, some kind of war here in the West is absolutely not in the interests of the Belarusian state. So the West can sleep peacefully.”

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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