‘WE ARE on the verge of conflict which would involve the whole continent,’ Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said yesterday at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin after an important meeting between the two leaders.
‘We see that the irresponsibility of a number of Western leaders has lead to this situation in the Ukraine,’ Lukashenko said.
He added: ‘We see that people are already fleeing the region of Donbass and this is not normal.
‘I have an impression that certain politicians from the so called “free-world,” are quite dangerous. Dangerous for those who surround them and dangerous for their own people.
‘We see that over the next few days we will complete our planned military drills and tomorrow we have a joint event on the territory of the Russian Federation which the media will be informed about.
‘I explained the essence of the drills in the context of increasing danger at the border.
‘In the context of the Ukraine being filled up with foreign weapons, Belarus and Russia have to take measures and there is nothing surprising about this.
‘We have to be careful, there are about 1,500 kilometres of border which has to be protected. These drills are justified by this situation.’
Lukashenko said the West will not succeed. ‘They lost the first round,’ he said.
‘They are now, as I see, starting a second round, scaring the entire world by saying we will attack Ukraine tomorrow, encircle it, destroy it and so on.
‘Russia and Belarus will continue to hold military exercises,’ he said.
‘We will teach people to fight a war,’ he said. ‘There’s no way around it.’
Lukashenko said he attended joint exercises of the two countries the day before.
President Putin said of the meeting he had with Lukashenko: ‘We talked about the problems of the Ukrainian conflict. The process of regulating that crisis is still being stalled.
‘Our consultations with Western leaders is not going forward. We see that there is sabotage of the agreements.
‘We see that in the Ukraine there is a systematic violation of human rights and discrimination against the Russian speaking population.
‘We have heard that the basis for the peace progress in the Ukraine is the fulfilment Minsk Agreement and we said that we will meet with the representatives of Donbass in order to finalise the initiatives for peace. I would like to thank President Lukashenko for the productive joint work between our countries. Tomorrow we will take part in the planned events and continue in our joint efforts.’
Earlier in the day US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said during a visit to Poland confirmed that the US had approved the sale of 250 Abrams tanks and related equipment to Poland in a $6 billion (£4.4bn) deal.