Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday said that Belarus and Russia agreed to deploy a joint military force in response to tensions on the western borders of the “Union State,” which refers to the combined territories of the two nations.
“In the wake of escalations on the western borders of the Union State, we agreed on deploying a regional group of forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus,” Lukashenko said, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
The Belarusian leader didn’t specify where the troops might be deployed. He said Russia and Belarus began combining troops two days ago, after the Ukrainian attack on the Kerch Bridge, which links Crimea to the Russian mainland.
The Belarusian leader claimed that Ukraine is discussing plans to launch attacks on Belarus. “I have already said that Ukraine today it is not just discussing but planning strikes on Belarusian territory,” he said.
Lukashenko said it would be “madness” for Ukraine to open a second front but that “nevertheless, the process has begun.” He claimed that Ukraine’s Western backers are pushing for an attack on Belarus.
Russia launched part of its initial invasion from Belarusian territory, but so far, Belarus has not entered the war. The US and its allies have been driving Russia and Belarus closer together by imposing sanctions on both nations. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said that this pressure from the West is pushing the “unification process” between Russia and Belarus.
Russia and Belarus signed a treaty in 1997 known as the Union State that would integrate the two nations. Under the agreement, they would remain separate sovereign states, but Russian and Belarusian citizens would be granted citizenship for both countries and would be able to travel freely.