Lukashenko backs himself into a corner as Belarus now ‘wholly dependent on Russia’

Belarusian combatants appear to fire on Russian forces

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In its latest update on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the UK Defence Ministry accused Belarus of facilitating a missile attack on Ukraine by the Russian military. In a statement, the British Government said President Lukashenko’s regime is “ever more authoritarian”.

The statement read: “On 28 July 2022, Russia fired at least 20 missiles into northern Ukraine from Belarusian territory.

“This follows Russia’s use of Belarusian territory to launch the main thrusts of its failed attempt to take Kyiv in February.

“Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko continues to follow Moscow’s line on the Ukraine conflict, stating on 21 July that Ukraine must accept Russia’s demands for the war to stop.

“His regime has become ever more authoritarian, with the expansion of the death penalty for ‘preparing terrorist acts’.

“His increasing and baseless accusations of Western designs on Belarus and Ukraine likely indicate that he has become almost wholly dependent on Russia.”

The North district command of the Ukrainian armed forces said more than 20 missiles had been fired at the Chernihiv region bordering Russia from a base in Belarus.

The Government’s response comes as Belarus recalled its ambassador to Britain on Friday in response to what it called “hostile and unfriendly” actions by London.

In a statement, Belarus’ foreign ministry said Britain had adopted policies that were “systematically aimed at causing maximum damage to Belarusian citizens and legal entities,” citing sanctions on its companies, a ban on national airline Belavia and restrictions on Belarusian state media.

Ties between Belarus and the West have plunged since the country’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko, cracked down hard on the opposition after a disputed 2020 presidential election.

Belarus also allowed Russia to use its territory to launch a major prong of its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

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Lukashenko and Minsk have become increasingly isolated in the West and moved closer to the Kremlin for crucial financial, military and diplomatic support.

Belarus’ foreign ministry also attacked what it called the “political theatre” of Britain’s domestic politics and called on politicians to “work not for their personal rating, but for the benefit of British people.”

President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that the Russian navy would receive hypersonic Zircon cruise missiles within the next few months and that the area of their deployment would depend on Russian interests.

Speaking on Russia’s Navy Day in the former imperial capital of St Petersburg, Putin praised Tsar Peter the Great for making Russia a great sea power. Putin did not mention Ukraine directly.

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But the Kremlin chief said he had signed a new navy doctrine, the details of which were not published, and touted the Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles as unique in the world.

“The delivery of these (missiles) to the Russian armed forces will start in the coming months,” Putin said. “The Admiral Gorshkov frigate will be the first to go on combat duty with these formidable weapons on board.”

“The key thing here is the capability of the Russian navy…

It is able to respond with lightning speed to all who decides to infringe on our sovereignty and freedom.”

Hypersonic weapons can travel at nine times the speed of sound, and Russia has conducted previous test-launches of the Zircon from warships and submarines over the past year.

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