Ukraine Reports Strikes From Belarus After Lukashenko Warns of Attack

Ukraine accused Moscow of sending drones from neighboring Belarus on Monday just hours after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko warned his military about a “possible aggression against” Belarus from Ukraine.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalated again this week, Ukraine’s Air Force Command claimed its air defenses shot down two Iranian-made drones launched from Belarus as part of the string of deadly strikes Moscow ordered against Ukraine.

Russia launched dozens of missile strikes across Ukraine early Monday, pounding civilian areas and knocking out power and heat in multiple Ukrainian cities.

Ahead of reports that drones were coming from Belarus, Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that Russia and Belarus had already begun forming a “joint regional group of troops” after claiming Ukraine was planning a strike on Belarus, without citing evidence.

Speaking at a meeting with security officials, Lukashenko cautioned that Belarus “must have plans in advance to counter all kinds of scoundrels who are trying to drag us into a fight,” according to state news agency Belta.

“There should be no war on the territory of Belarus,” he said.

Ukraine Reports Strikes From Belarus After Lukashenko Warns of Attack
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during a joint press conference at the Kremlin on September 9, 2021, in Moscow. On Monday, Lukashenko said Belarus and Russia had begun forming a joint military force in connection to the war in Ukraine.
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian forces have used Belarus as a staging post since they invaded Ukraine on February 24, and Lukashenko is widely believed to be under growing Russian pressure to get more involved in the war. He has thus far resisted sending his own troops to Ukraine.

Lawrence Reardon, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, told Newsweek that while Lukashenko will continue to allow Russian troops to gather at the Belarus-Ukraine border for access to Russian oil, it’s unlikely that he will call on troops to join the war.

“Lukashenko is primarily concerned about maintaining control at home,” Reardon said.

In response to Monday’s missile strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, the European Commission warned Belarus against helping Russia in its “brutal illegitimate undertaking” and urged Lukashenko to stop allowing Moscow to use Belarus as a launch pad for attacks against Ukraine.

“Any further actions and in particular the Belarusian military’s direct involvement into this war, against the will of the vast majority of the Belarusian people, will be met by new and strong restrictive measures,” Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the EU commission, said during a news briefing.

On Monday, Poland told its citizens in Belarus to leave the country as relations between the two countries have soured due to the war in Ukraine.

Lukashenko did not provide any details about the new joint force’s purpose, but he told his military chiefs to “be ready to receive these people in the near future and place them where necessary.”

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a Belarusian opposition leader, disputed Lukashenko’s claims on Monday, saying, “Ukraine doesn’t pose a threat to Belarus.”

“Lukashenka & Putin are dragging Belarus into a full-scale war against Ukraine,” Tikhanovskaya tweeted. “Let Lukashenka know that he will face the strongest sanctions & complete political isolation. Both dictators are war criminals & must appear before the tribunal.”

“I keep urging Belarusian officers and soldiers: Do not follow the regime’s criminal orders, refuse to participate in Putin’s war against our neighbors,” she said in a video shared on social media.

Newsweek reached out to Lukashenko’s office for comment.

Update 10/10/2022, 3:00 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include a comment from University of New Hampshire political science professor Lawrence Reardon.

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