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Belarus admits Russia’s war is ‘dragging on’ – The Denver Post

MINSK, Belarus — Authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, but he said he did not expect the old conflict of 10 weeks “is dragging in this direction”.

He also spoke out against the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, but did not say whether Russian President Vladimir Putin intended to do so.

Lukashenko said Moscow, which launched the February 24 invasion of Ukraine – partly from its territory – had to act because kyiv was “provoking Russia”.

“But I’m not immersed enough in this problem to say whether it’s going as planned, as the Russians say, or as I feel it,” he said in an interview lasting nearly 90 minutes. at the Independence Palace in Minsk. “I want to emphasize once again: I have the impression that this operation dragged on.”

Lukashenko’s support for the war has drawn international criticism and sanctions against Minsk. Some Russian troops have been sent from Belarusian territory to Ukraine, and Lukashenko has publicly backed his longtime ally, who has pumped billions of dollars into bolstering his state-controlled Soviet-style economy with energy and loans. cheap.

But speaking to the AP, Lukashenko said he and his country stood for peace and repeatedly called for an end to the war.

“We categorically do not accept any war. We have done and are doing everything now so that there is no war. Thanks to yours truly, that is, to me, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun,” he said.

Lukashenko has spoken out against the use of nuclear weapons in the conflict.

“Not only is the use of nuclear weapons unacceptable because it is right next to us, but we are not across the ocean like the United States. It’s also unacceptable because it could cause our Earth ball to fly out of orbit to who knows where,” he said. “Whether Russia can do it or not is a question you have to ask the Russian leadership.”

Russia “cannot, by definition, lose this war,” Lukashenko said, noting that Belarus is the only country on Moscow’s side, while “no fewer than 50 states have joined forces” alongside Israel. Ukraine.

He added that Putin was not looking for a direct conflict with NATO and that the West should ensure that this did not happen.

“He probably doesn’t want a global confrontation with NATO. Use it. Use it and do everything so that it doesn’t happen. Otherwise, even if Putin doesn’t want it, the military will react,” warned Belarusian leader.

Lukashenko, 67, called Putin a “big brother” and said the Russian leader had “no closer, more open or friendlier relations with any of the world leaders other than the president of Belarus”.

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