MOSCOW | Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday he was ready to deploy forces to neighboring Belarus if the post-election dispute escalates there, while calling on the parties to a negotiated settlement.
Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president confronted for three weeks with a wave of protest of an unprecedented scale, had affirmed in mid-August to have received a promise of “help” from Moscow to preserve the security of his country.
In an interview with Russian state television, Putin explained that Russia was ready to intervene in its neighbor, if necessary, within the framework of existing security and military agreements.
“Alexander (Lukashenko) asked me to set up a certain reserve of law enforcement officers and I did so,” he said, adding immediately that he hoped he would not have to resort to it. . “We agreed that I will not use it until the situation is out of control and extremist elements (…) cross certain limits: that they set fire to cars, houses, banks, are trying to seize administrative buildings, ”he said.
Poland and NATO are opposed
Mr. Putin in the process urged “all participants in this process” to “find a way out” to the crisis.
The opposition called the constitution of the reserve “unacceptable” and “contrary to international law”, rejecting “any foreign interference of any kind” in Belarus. She also said she would refuse any “foreign aid” to the protest movement.
Mr. Putin’s statements were also condemned by Poland, which called on Moscow to “immediately abandon its plans for military intervention under a false pretext”. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, for his part, called on Moscow not to “interfere” in Belarus.
The opposition says it wants to dialogue with Alexander Lukashenko, while asking for his departure, while the Belarusian president refuses any negotiations.