“Russia is being pushed towards a third world war. We should be very reserved and steer clear of it because nuclear war is the end of everything,” Lukashenko said in a statement regarding the Ukraine crisis that he said could ignite a global war. (Related: Putin puts his nuclear forces on high alert in response to NATO actions, sanctions, amid ongoing Ukraine war.)
“In a situation like this, we should be aware that there are such sanctions. A great deal is being said about the banking sector. It’s worse than war.”
Lukashenko claimed that the United States is the “only beneficiary” of the present conflict, adding that it intended to “put Europe in its place and remove competitors.”
“Today we must stop the war. I would not even call it ‘war’ right now: It is still a conflict. Another day or two and there will be a war,” the Belarusian leader remarked while casting a ballot at a referendum on changing his country’s Constitution.
He pointed out that the goal of Russia is to “restore Ukraine.”
Lukashenko, who allowed Russia to gather its military armament and initiate an attack from his side of the border, is likely to send troops into Ukraine.
“It’s very clear Minsk is now an extension of the Kremlin,” an unnamed Joe Biden administration official told the Washington Post.
Peace talks on Belarus border
The threat of Belarus joining the invasion overshadowed the peace talks Monday, Feb. 28, that started on the Belarus border town of Gobel.
The talks were assisted by Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Abramovich attended at the request of Ukraine, which cites his close ties to the Jewish communities in Russia and Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not participate in the talks.
Ukraine’s initial call for a ceasefire was denied as bullets and missiles poured down throughout the country, particularly in Kharkiv, which came under heavy cluster bomb attacks Monday.
Lukashenko had contacted Zelenskyy on Sunday, Feb. 27, and guaranteed his safety should he join the peace summit on Ukraine’s border with Belarus, saying that he would take “responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on the Belarusian territory will remain on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation’s travel, meeting and return.”
Zelensky refused the offer, deciding instead to help hold off Russian troops in the capital city of Kyiv.
Meanwhile, heavy fighting appeared to calm down overnight in Kyiv with the Russian military providing a safe passageway for Ukrainian civilians to leave the capital city after the end of a weekend-long curfew. Many lined up for food and other supplies to crouch back down or remain to protect the city.
Heavy fighting in Ukraine
Heavy fighting persisted elsewhere, along with the cities of Chernihiv and Kharkiv, which European and British defense ministries affirm is still under Ukrainian control despite suffering heavy losses. Ukraine’s defense ministry confirmed Monday that dozens had died and hundreds were injured after a vicious Russian assault.
Russian forces have reportedly seized the Black Sea city of Berdyansk and the city of Kherson near Crimea.
NATO head Jens Stoltenberg tweeted on Monday that NATO allies are “providing Ukraine with air defense missiles and anti-tank weapons.”
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense was also backed by strong interest in its “International Legion” of foreign fighters. After issuing a call over the weekend for foreign nationals to join the fight to protect Ukraine, the ministry said it received “thousands” of messages from people who wished to help.
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