Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has completely denied that there are any foreign troops in the country, rejecting online “fakes” that claim to show columns of Russian troops heading towards the border.
Instead he says Belarusian officials should carefully monitor NATO troops at the country’s western borders. “The defense ministry should pay special attention to movements of NATO forces in Poland and Lithuania,” state news agency BelTA quoted him as saying. “We should track all directions of their movements, and their intentions.”
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Lukashenko is currently facing mass unrest following the results of a national election on August 9, deemed by many to be falsified. Some internet commenters have claimed that the Belarusian president has called for Russian military assistance, but this has been denied.
“As for foreign troops, today there is not a single one from another state in Belarus,” he said, according to BelTA.
“Another problem is fakes. People are blatantly lying on the internet, saying that there are foreign troops in Belarus, and equipment from Russia,” the President complained. Lukashenko noted that videos are published online showing military vehicles driving down a road, but nobody knows when or where these were filmed.
In particular, Lukashenko mentioned a viral image showing a convoy of Belarusian military vehicles said to be moving towards the city of Orsha, which had been widely speculated to be Russian.
A second convoy of unmarked trucks identical to Russia’s National Guard/riot police transport vehicles was filmed driving from Moscow past Smolensk towards Belarus. A witness counted 30 trucks in the St. Petersburg convoy, suggesting 600+ personnel https://t.co/AAvJ6gCrCL pic.twitter.com/FLVTDI6Qnb
— CIT (en) (@CITeam_en) August 16, 2020
On Tuesday, Lukashenko announced that the Belarusian army had been deployed in the west of the country and put on full alert. Along this frontier, Belarus shares borders with Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine.
Since 1994, Russia and Belarus have been part of a group called the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a collection of six former Soviet countries who have pledged to protect each other in case of war.
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