Belarus Prez Lukashenko says doing ‘everything’ to stop Ukraine war
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Ukraine was “provoking” Russia, and was not “interested” in peace talks to end the war.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, in an exclusive interview to The Associated Press (AP), on Thursday said he was doing “everything” to put an end to the war in Ukraine that has been going on for more than two months now. He further said that he did not think Russia's “military operation” in its former Soviet neighbour would “drag on this way”.
“We categorically do not accept any war. We have done and are doing everything now so that there isn't a war. Thanks to yours truly, me that is, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun,” Lukashenko was quoted as saying by the AP.
Stating that Ukraine was “provoking Russia”, he said the pro-European nation was not “interested” in peace talks. “Why is Ukraine, on whose territory a war in effect is ongoing, military action, people are dying… why is Ukraine not interested in these negotiations?” the Belarus President told AP in the interview.
Lukashenko's statement came two days after his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of not taking peace talks seriously to end the conflict. In a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, Putin also said the West must stop supplying weapons to Ukraine.
Belarus hosted the very first round of talks between Moscow and Kyiv negotiators in March. However, negotiations so far have made little progress with Ukraine accusing Russian troops of committing war crimes in the country, which also triggered the West to impose more sanctions against Putin's side, even targeting energy supplies.
Earlier this week, Belarusian military announced snap drills that raised concerns in Ukraine. Lukashenko said the drills did not threaten anyone.
“We do not threaten anyone and we are not going to threaten and will not do it. Moreover, we can’t threaten -- we know who opposes us, so to unleash some kind of a conflict, some kind of war here in the West is absolutely not in the interests of the Belarusian state. So the West can sleep peacefully," Lukashenko said.
Earlier in the day, Ukraine said Russia was “trying to destroy” its remaining troops present in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant. In a statement, Kyiv's army said Russian occupiers were “focusing on blocking and trying to destroy Ukrainian units” in the Azovstal region. The statement came as a Russian-announced ceasefire was due to commence at the besieged plant, where hundreds of Ukrainian troops and some civilians had been holed up for weeks.
(With agency inputs)