Belarus to join Ukraine war only if attacked: President

Belarus has no plans to fight against Ukraine but will respond if attacked, President Aleksandr Lukashenko said on Thursday.

"We don't want war. And in no case are we going to introduce our troops into the territory of Ukraine. Only if you (the West) commit aggression on the territory of Belarus from there," Lukashenko told a news conference in Minsk.

He said Russia never asked Belarus to start combat activities against Ukraine although the two countries are military allies, adding that the country had no plans to declare military mobilization.

Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia and its ally Belarus over the war in Ukraine, which is nearly a year old.

The two neighbors are formally part of a "union state" and have been in talks for years to move closer together, a process that has accelerated in recent years.

Lukashenko called the actions of Kyiv as the reason for the Russian "special military operation," saying: "You say 'invasion'. And I think it's not an invasion. ... The Ukrainian authorities themselves provoked this operation. ... I think it's protecting the interests of Russia and Russian people."

The president claimed that the Belarusian intelligence reported that a missile strike was being prepared from Ukraine on Belarus, but it was thwarted "a few minutes before the start of a special military operation."

Lukashenko also reminded that Ukraine was the first country that introduced sanctions against Belarus in 2020, before any Western or European state.

Ukraine was only "a pretext for unleashing a war that the West was pushing (Russia) for," he said, adding that the West wants to "dismember Ukraine with the hands of Poles."

"If you want peace in Ukraine, let's start talking about peace tomorrow. And the guns will stop firing. But you don't want that. You (the West) are the perpetrators of the escalation today.

"You are not just not ready, it would be a terrible tragedy and catastrophe for you if peace talks started now. You need a war," he said.

Lukashenko advised Kyiv to take advantage of the opportunity to stop fighting while "there are more favorable conditions for Ukraine" and to refrain from putting forward preconditions, including demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops.

The head of state also offered to organize a meeting in Minsk between Russian and US presidents, noting that Joe Biden plans to visit Poland next week.

"We will meet here three of us -- two 'aggressors' and a 'peace-loving' president. Why not? ... We will solve all the problems here," he said.

Commenting on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Lukashenko said: "He is unable to pursue an independent policy, and his actions harm his country in the first turn. Volodya Zelenskyy is destroying Ukraine."

Belarus does not need strategic nuclear weapons

Asked about planes capable to carry nuclear weapons, Lukashenko said Belarus has such aircraft but does not want strategic nuclear weapons, has no intentions "to kill Americans."

Lukashenko recalled that when he (first) became president of Belarus (in 1994), nuclear weapons were withdrawn at the insistence of the US.

"We had the most modern Topol-M (missile systems). ... We agreed to abandon them in exchange for guarantees from Americans, Europeans and Russians that they will never encroach on our sovereignty and independence, they will never apply economic sanctions to us.

"They (Western countries) spit on it, trampled on it, apply sanctions against us, strangle us wherever possible, in violation of that agreement."

Lukashenko suggested that if Belarus "had these nuclear weapons, they (the West) wouldn't talk like that."

"It means that everyone understands only force," the president concluded.

Lukashenko also promised a response to the closure of border checkpoints by Lithuania and Poland.

Source: Anadolu Agency