Ukraine admits fears over Russian influence in Belarus as Minsk claims foreign powers trying to separate country from Moscow

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister has warned that extra Russian clout in Belarus is dangerous for Kiev. Dmitry Kuleba’s comments come as the Belarusian Prime Minister said foreign powers hope to drive a wedge between Minsk and Moscow

Kuleba admitted that the present situation is likely to lead to a “strengthening of Russia,” listing some scenarios Kiev views as a threat: “If Belarus is absorbed by Russia within the Union State, or if a person under full control of the Kremlin comes into power there. Or if [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko stays in power, but becomes so weak that he won’t be able to say no to Russia.”

During the interview with Gazeta.ua, the minister pointed out that Lukashenko had paid heed to Moscow, and not Kiev, on the issue of Russian nationals detained in Belarus in July.

Ukraine claimed that 28 detained military contractors had taken part in the fighting in Donbass, with pending criminal proceedings launched against them in Ukraine. Nevertheless, Minsk didn’t consider Kiev’s extradition requests and sent the detainees back to Russia.

Meanwhile, the Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko told his Russian counterpart Mikhail Mishustin that outside actors threatened the country’s “fraternal relations.” “Belarus has faced strong pressure from foreign powers that tried and continue to try to overthrow the state and implement a color revolution scenario that we have seen in our neighboring country, as well as to drive a wedge between two closest allies, Belarus and Russia,” Golovchenko alleged.

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The pair met on Thursday In Minsk, marking the highest-level official encounter between the two countries since the disputed August 9 presidential election in Belarus. According to Golovchenko, after failing politically, “some forces are trying to shatter the economy” of Belarus. “But we are used to external challenges, particularly as we feel the support of our ally, Russia,” he noted.

Before meeting with the Belarusian prime minister, Mishustin held a meeting with the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko.