Belarus president claims the West is plotting to attack Russia

Alexander Lukashenko said he had discussed the alleged conspiracy with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus, the Kremlin's main ally, has served as a staging ground for the Russian army in its offensive on Ukraine. Photo: EPA
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The West is preparing to attack Russia through Belarus, the country's president claimed on Tuesday.

Speaking to military graduates and officers, Alexander Lukashenko said he has discussed the alleged plot with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The warning comes as Russia and Ukraine reported strikes in different cities and the EU approved €1 billion ($1bn) in aid.

“Strategic plans for an attack against Russia are being developed,” Mr Lukashenko said, adding that the West would seek to target Russia “through Ukraine and through Belarus”.

“History is repeating itself,” he said, an apparent reference to the invasion of Russia by Napoleon's troops in 1812 and by Nazi Germany in 1941.

“The events unfolding today around Belarus and Russia call for our utmost vigilance and concentration,” Mr Lukashenko said.

He said the West was pushing the world towards “major war” and said the army should “keep its powder dry”.

He also pointed to Nato's expansion, saying the “newly minted crusaders” were “forming an armoured fist” to attack Russia.

Belarus, the Kremlin's main ally, has served as a staging ground for the Russian army in its offensive on neighbouring Ukraine.

Aid to Ukraine

EU diplomats announced the €1bn in new funding on Tuesday and added that the rest of a promised €9bn was held up as member states argued over whether a country at war was in a position to sign on to long-term loan.

The funding announced on Tuesday is in addition to €1.2bn disbursed earlier this year by the EU, bringing the bloc's total financial aid to Ukraine since the invasion on February 24 to €2.2bn.

“This will give Ukraine the necessary funds to cover urgent needs and ensure the operation of critical infrastructure,” said Zbynek Stanjura, finance minister of the Czech Republic, which holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Ukraine has said its budget shortfall is as much as €5bn a month and that the everyday running of government and public services depends on urgent foreign aid.

“I wish the amount were greater,” said one EU diplomat, adding that talks among member states to release more funds were “on the right track”.

Allies have rushed to help Ukraine, with the G7 and others announcing commitments of $29.6bn in further money for Kyiv, according to the US Treasury Department.

The US last month transferred $1.3 billion to Ukraine as part of the initial $7.5 billion promised to Kyiv by the Biden administration in May.

Meanwhile, Russian forces launched a “massive” strike on the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, with missiles hitting two medical centres and residential buildings, Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych said. Twelve people have been wounded in the attacks, said regional head, Vitaliy Kim.

In Chasiv Yar, the death toll from an attack on an apartment block climbed on Tuesday to 35, the town's emergency services said.

Russia, which denies deliberately attacking civilians, said on Monday it had “destroyed the temporary deployment point” of a Ukrainian territorial defence unit.

Ukraine said it destroyed an arms depot as part of a barrage of rockets and missiles on Russian military targets in southern Ukraine.

Military officials said the strikes in the Kherson region destroyed artillery, armoured vehicles “and a warehouse with ammunition in Nova Kakhovka”.

Updated: July 12, 2022, 12:48 PM