Lukashenko and Putin Affirm Their Close Ties Without Mention of Ukraine

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus agreed on “many issues” at the regional summit, both leaders said on Tuesday, amid concerns in Kiev that Moscow could use its ally as a launchpad for a new ground attack on Ukraine.

Commands from the Kremlin and office of the president of Belarus about the summit made no mention of Ukraine, nor did they provide details on what the men had agreed to during their talks in St. Petersburg, Russia. But Mr. Lukashenko’s visit and comments emphasized his closeness to Mr. Putin and could add to fears that Moscow will try to involve Belarus, Ukraine’s northern neighbor, more directly in the war.

After Mr. Putin visited Belarus last week, a rare overseas trip As for the Russian leader since his forces entered the war in Ukraine, Lukashenko traveled to Russia for a two-day meeting with leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States, a gathering of countries. republic of the former Soviet Union centered in Moscow, starting on Monday.

According to a source report in Belta, Belarusian state news agency. On Tuesday morning, the Russian leader picked up Lukashenko and the two drove together to a high-profile event at the Russian Museum.

Speaking alongside Putin on Tuesday, Lukashenko said: “I thank you for the final agreement on many issues yesterday,” according to the Belarusian leader’s office.

Landlocked Belarus is dependent on Russia for security and fuel, with much of the Belarusian economy tied to Russian oil refining. Lukashenko said that much of his discussion with Putin focused on economic issues.

For years, Lukashenko has sought to balance his country’s geopolitical relations between Russia and Western nations. But when Putin supported Mr. Lukashenko in mass protests in 2020, Mr. Lukashenko repression by forceit further increased his confidence in the Russian leader.

In recent weeks, a series of military activities in Belarus near the Ukrainian border, including exercises involving thousands of Russian and Belarusian troops, have been reminiscent of February, when Russia used Belarus as a springboard to begin a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have been closely monitoring developments in Belarus, although the director of Ukraine’s military intelligence service told The New York Times last week that the operation could be an attempt by Moscow to force Ukraine to move troops away from frontline areas.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based research group, said in a report last week that although a new Russian invasion from Belarus is “unlikely” this winter, the threat of such an attack is “low, but probable.”


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