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Fears that Putin’s meeting with Lukashenko could drag Belarus into war in Ukraine.

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Vladimir Putin visited Belarus and met with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko Lukashenko said the two leaders would discuss the “military and political situation” in the region and economic cooperation ahead of Putin’s first visit to Belarus since 2019. The Belarusian strongman who oversaw the crackdown on anti-government protesters in 2020 said his country’s “sovereignty and emphasized that “independence” is not subject to debate. “I would like to emphasize this quality again. Only we rule Belarus,” Lukashenko said in a statement released by the presidential press service. “We must always assume that we are a sovereign nation and independent.” Ukraine will closely monitor the talks. Last week, several Ukrainian military commanders said Russia could make another attempt to invade the country from the north. President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that Ukraine was preparing “all possible defense scenarios” against Russia and its allies.

“Protecting our borders with both Russia and Belarus is our constant priority,” Zelensky said after a meeting with the Ukrainian Supreme Command. “We are ready for every conceivable defense scenario.” Lukashenko had previously allowed the Kremlin to use his country as a platform to send tens of thousands of Russian troops to Ukraine while Russian fighter jets took off from Belarusian bases. However, Lukashenko did not directly participate in the war or send his country’s troops into battle, sometimes subtly criticizing aggression and saying he felt the conflict was “dragging”. Over the past month, a series of military exercises with Russia on the Belarusian border has reignited fears that Belarus will join the fight. “The likelihood of Belarusian forces invading Ukraine without Russian forces is still very low. It is not clear whether Lukashenko will deploy Belarusian forces to fight in Ukraine, even alongside Russian forces,” said ISW.

“It would be very unpopular to participate in this war. All available polls show that more than 90% of Belarusians do not want to send troops there,” Schreibmann said. Said. “That includes Lukashenko’s supporters and pro-Russian parts of society.” On Monday, Zelensky called on Western leaders to supply their country with a wide range of weapons systems to end the “Russian aggression.” “A lot depends on you how this war ends. He said in a video address to the head of state of the Joint Expeditionary Force, a group of European nations Mr. Zelensky told British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, “I ask you to help us increase our chances of supplying air defense systems to our country and expedite related decisions by our partners. Zelensky addressed several European leaders in person, urging Norway to increase its supply of NASAMS launchers, to transfer Denmark its Caesar howitzers, and to Lithuania to send NASAM air defense systems, Stinger missiles, and more.

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