Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday that Russia, Ukraine, and the West must all agree to halt the conflict in Ukraine to avoid the “abyss of nuclear war.”
“We must stop, reach an agreement, end this mess, operation and war in Ukraine,” Lukashenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s top ally, told AFP in an exclusive interview in Minsk.
“Let’s stop and then we will figure out how to go on living… There’s no need to go further. Further lies the abyss of nuclear war. There’s no need to go there.”
Lukashenko accused the West of seeking a conflict with Russia and of provoking the Ukraine war.
“You have fomented the war and are continuing it,” he said.
“We have seen the reasons for this war,” he added.
“If Russia had not got ahead of you, members of NATO, you would have organized and struck a blow against it,” he said, echoing Putin.
Belarus has served as a staging ground for Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, but Lukashenko has so far avoided becoming a party to the conflict.
Analysts say that he is keenly aware of the fact that most Belarusians do not support sending troops into Ukraine.
The 67-year-old leader, who has ruled Belarus for nearly three decades, insisted that Kyiv authorities can end the war if they re-start talks with Moscow and accept its demands.
“Everything depends on Ukraine,” he said.
“Right now, the peculiarity of the moment is that this war can be ended on more acceptable terms for Ukraine.”
He urged Kyiv authorities to “sit down at the negotiating table and agree that they will never threaten Russia.”
Talks between Russia and Ukraine largely ground to a halt in mid-April.
Lukashenko said that Ukraine must accept the loss of regions occupied by Russia in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that peace talks with Ukraine “make no sense” and announced that Moscow’s military aims in the pro-Western country were no longer focused “only” on the east.
Lukashenko has sought to promote himself as Putin’s most faithful ally, welcoming Russian troops under the pretext of military exercises before Moscow launched its Ukraine offensive.
Despite officially being a non-belligerent, the Belarus strongman has demanded that his country be included in any talks and a deal to end the conflict.
Lukashenko insisted that the war could have been avoided if Western countries had given Putin “the security guarantees” he wanted.
“You, members of NATO and Americans, needed war.”