Kazakhstan’s Astana Do not corner Russian President Vladimir Putin, warns Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to the West.
Crossing Putin’s red lines in Ukraine would be a mistake, the strongman and close ally of the Kremlin said in an exclusive interview on Friday. Russia has nuclear weapons for a reason.
On the fringes of a regional gathering of post-Soviet leaders in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, Lukashenko told NBC’s Keir Simmons, “If you back a person or a country into a corner, there is only one way out forward.” Red lines cannot be crossed, so don’t do it.
In response to a question about whether his Russian counterpart was willing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Lukashenko adopted a doomsday tone while also downplaying the likelihood of such a move as unnecessary and reckless.
He warned that should there, God forbid, be an attack on Russian Federation soil, all available weapons may be used by Russia. President Putin and the Russian government have never, ever, intended to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
As an illustration of what Moscow is willing to do if forced into a corner, Lukashenko pointed to this week’s tremendous bombardment of Russian missile strikes against crucial infrastructure and civilian targets in Ukraine.
The Russian government justified the attacks, which involved cruise missiles destroying buildings, bridges, and power plants while also killing civilians, as payback for last weekend’s explosion that damaged a vital bridge leading to Crimea that had been taken.
You certainly observed that was strong, but Lukashenko stated of the Russian response, “That’s not everything.” Russia has the most advanced weapons, and I am certain of this. And nuclear weapons are not necessary. Russia can survive without them.
As the military retreats on the battlefield and unease builds at home, the Kremlin has fostered rising nuclear worries. Putin declared the annexation of four Ukrainian areas last month and made it clear he was ready to use whatever means required to defend that land.
The official tenets of the nation’s nuclear doctrine, which state that it reserves the right to use nuclear force in response to direct attacks on its territory, are frequently nodded to by Russian state television commentators who have at times openly suggested Moscow use nuclear weapons to solidify its hold over these recently claimed territories.
The Belarusian leader, however, asserted that Russia has no interest in extending the confrontation to the point of a nuclear exchange, no matter how small, and that the West and Ukraine are the ones politically driving the nuclear tension.
According to Lukashenko, this would mean the end of the world.
Even one nation using nuclear weapons will start a domino effect. Russia is aware of this. And no one has established a goal of utilizing nuclear weapons, I want to stress this, and I have confirmation of this from President Putin.
Instead, Lukashenko argued, we should try to settle this problem peacefully. Everyone would benefit from it, including the United States.
Matt Bodner reported from London, and Keir Simmons from Astana.