UPDATE - Belarus to immediately respond if Baltics, Poland display aggression: President

UPDATE - Belarus to immediately respond if Baltics, Poland display aggression: President

Response will be ‘overwhelming,’ Lukashenko warns

UPDATES WITH MORE COMMENTS FROM BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT, MINOR EDITS

By Zehra Nur Duz

Belarus will instantly respond if Ukraine, the Baltic countries or Poland act aggressively against it, President Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday.

“There can only be one threat: aggression against our country. If aggression begins even on the part of Ukraine, on the part of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, we will respond instantly with everything that we have," Russian state news agency TASS quoted Lukashenko as saying in an interview with Ukrainian journalist Diana Panchenko posted on her YouTube channel.

“We are not competing with them. Yet we will deliver an overwhelming strike on them and they will end up with an overwhelming loss, damage," he said.

Lukashenko underscored that despite the Ukrainian capital being surrounded by Russian troops at one point during the war, Russia did not storm Kyiv because that would have killed a lot of people, TASS reported.

"We had a conversation with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin in connection with this. I say, ‘In order for the war to end, naturally, the capital needs to be taken.’ He says to me: 'You know, it can be done immediately, instantly, but a huge number of people will die,'" he added.

Lukashenko warned that Ukraine may lose all of its territory if it continues its military activities, and said that negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow must begin "without any preconditions" and that he did not rule out the possibility of Belarus' involvement in the negotiation process.

Relations between Kyiv and Moscow can be rebuilt, he said, adding: "The first step that needs to be taken is establishing peace."

He went on to say that the “unwillingness” of Ukrainian politicians to conduct talks with Russia could lead to a military coup, adding the West is beginning to understand that even with its support, Ukraine will "not be able to withstand" Russia.


*Burc Eruygur in Istanbul contributed to this story

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