Belarus may send troops to support Russia's invasion: top US intel officer
Belarus may send troops to support Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a top US intelligence official was quoted by news agency Associated Press Monday. Belarus, another former member of the erstwhile Soviet Union, has been providing support for the attack on Ukraine, including acting as a staging ground for invading soldiers, but has not, so far, taken direct part.
Belarus is also the chosen 'neutral' site for talks between Russia and Ukraine; a Russian delegation arrived this morning in the city of Gomel and are awaiting the Ukrainian delegation.
The unnamed American official quoted by AP is believed to have direct knowledge of current American intelligence assessments and says the decision by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko - on whether to bring his country further into the war - depends on the Russia-Ukraine talks over the next few days. The official spoke anonymously to discuss the sensitive information.
That was after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country's nuclear forces to remain on high alert in response to what he called 'aggressive statements' by leading NATO powers. Putin also accused Ukraine of wasting 'an opportunity' for negotiations after Moscow's invasion.
Earlier Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed reluctance to hold peace talks in a country that had acted aggressively towards his. He changed his mind after a talk with his Belarussian counterpart.
Russia last week said it was ready to talk peace if Ukraine 'lays down arms'.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has spiraled into a massive global flashpoint, with Putin holding firm against a growing tide of sanctions against senior government figures and banks, including cutting the latter off from SWIFT - a global message service used by financial institutions worldwide.
Sanctions have also led to the Russian ruble tanking - it dropped by 30 per cent amid a rush to buy US dollars. The sanctions have also affected global oil prices; brent crude soared past $104 a barrel.
The United Nations Security Council voted to hold an emergency session of the General Assembly Monday in further protest of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The vote to hold the meeting was 11-1 with three abstentions, including India. Russia voted against but couldn’t veto because the question was procedural.
This is the first time in decades that the General Assembly has held such a meeting and comes after a US-sponsored Security Council vote on Russia's aggression was junked after Russia - allowed to vote despite being the resolution's subject - vetoed the move. India abstained from that too.
With input from AP, Bloomberg, Reuters
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