Putin Promises Comprehensive Support to Belarus in case of External Military Threats

  • President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko (facing one of the biggest crises of his presidency of 26 years) has pleaded help from President of Russia Vladimir Putin to contain a growing wave of protest inside his country. In televised remarks to a meeting of advisers on Saturday, Lukashenko said that growing protests in the country are organized by shadowy figures from abroad. On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters took over the center of the Belarusian capital, Minsk, and chanted the name of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (challenger of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko), who fled the country last Monday and took refuge in neighboring Lithuania. Demonstrations started pouring into the streets after President Lukashenko claimed to win the Presidential election last Sunday by securing 80% of the vote, followed by a significant crackdown by the government. The protest organizers have claimed to organize the biggest demonstration in Belarusian history today. Lukashenko has said in his televised remarks that if the ongoing protest topples his government then the wave of protest will spill over to Russia too. The Belarusian President has also voiced concerns over NATO military exercises that are going on in Lithuania and Poland (two neighboring countries of Belarus). Russian President Putin has promised to provide comprehensive assistance to Belarus in case there are external military threats. The announcement comes a day after European Union’s foreign ministers agreed to prepare new sanctions against officials of Belarus for “falsification”. While the US has called the Belarusian Presidential election as “not free and fair”, PMs of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have “expressed deep concern at the violent crackdown” as well as “the political repression of the opposition by the authorities”.