Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday that Russia, Ukraine, and Kyiv’s Western backers must agree to end the war in Ukraine to avoid the “abyss” of nuclear war.
“We must stop, reach an agreement, end this mess, operation and war in Ukraine,” Lukashenko told AFP. “Let’s stop and then we will figure out how to go on living … There’s no need to go further. Further lies the abyss of nuclear war. There’s no need to go there.”
Russian officials have ruled out using nuclear weapons in Ukraine and said they would only use such arms if there was an “existential” threat to Russia. But the massive amount of military assistance the US and its NATO allies are providing Ukraine in the war risks a direct conflict between the US and Russia, which could quickly turn nuclear.
There are no signs that the war will end anytime soon as Ukraine maintains it will drive Russia out of all the territory it captured, and Moscow has said it now has expanded its war aims outside of the Donbas region. The Western support for Ukraine also shows no sign of waning as President Biden recently declared the US will support Ukraine “as long as it takes” to see Russia defeated.
Peace talks between the warring sides have stalled since April, and Lukashenko said it was up to the Ukrainian side to negotiate. “Everything depends on Ukraine,” he said. The Belarusian leader said Ukrainian officials should “sit down at the negotiating table and agree that they will never threaten Russia.”
Lukashenko allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine from Belarusian territory during the initial phase of the war. Lukashenko grew closer to Putin since the August 2020 election in Belarus that saw him win another term. The US and the EU rejected the results of the election, added sanctions on Belarus, and threw support behind Lukashenko’s opposition.
While Belarus hasn’t directly entered the fighting, Minsk has been targeted with the same Western sanctions being implemented on Russia, drawing the two nations even closer together. Lukashenko blamed the war in Ukraine on the US and NATO, accusing the West of “fomenting” the conflict.