Since the August 9th presidential election in Belarus, the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko has claimed NATO is building up troops on Belarus’ border and is planning to oust him. Lukashenko made the claim again on Saturday when he was inspecting his own troops in Grodno, a city near Belarus’ border with Poland.
Lukashenko ordered his military to take “stringent measures” to protect the territorial integrity of Belarus. The president said NATO troops in neighboring Poland and Lithuania were “seriously stirring” near their borders.
NATO has repeatedly denied Lukashenko’s accusation of a NATO buildup on Belarus’ border and did so again after his latest comments. “As we have already made clear, NATO poses no threat to Belarus or any other country and has no military buildup in the region,” the alliance said in a statement. Poland and Lithuania have also denied Lukashenko’s claims.
Lukashenko’s fears of foreign intervention are not entirely unfounded. The US and EU have rejected the results of the August 9th election and called for a new round. The official results gave Lukashenko 80 percent of the votes, with his nearest opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya receiving 10 percent of the votes.
Russia has pledged military support for Lukashenko if it is necessary to keep the president in power. The US has voiced its support for the opposition, and Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Bieguin is expected to meet with opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in Lithuania on Monday.