Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, claimed Monday that Ukraine was preparing an attack on his country’s territory.
“I’ve said already that today Ukraine is not just discussing but planning strikes on the territory of Belarus,” state news agency Belta quoted Lukashenko as saying during a meeting with security officials.
“We have agreed to deploy a regional grouping of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus,” he added.
Lukashenko did not specify where the troops would be deployed.
He said the formation of these troops started two days ago, coinciding with an explosion on a bridge linking Crimea to Russia that Moscow blamed on Ukraine.
“Without escalating the situation, I want you to understand: if you want peace, you need to prepare for war. Always,” Lukashenko said.
He said Belarus “must have plans in advance to counter all kinds of scoundrels who are trying to drag us into a fight.”
“There should be no war on the territory of Belarus,” he added.
Belarus relies financially and politically on its key ally Russia.
Lukashenko allowed Russian troops into the country under the pretext of military exercises in the months before Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine.