Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's biggest allies, said the war in Ukraine has "dragged on."
Lukashenko defended Russia's decision to invade, telling the Associated Press in an interview on Thursday that Kyiv was “provoking Russia," though he added, “We categorically do not accept any war."
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Lukashenko allowed Russian troops to assemble on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border for military drills, but it, in actuality, turned out to be a staging area for the Russians’ descent toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. He has been targeted for sanctions by the West as a result of such decisions.
“But I am not immersed in this problem enough to say whether it goes according to plan, like the Russians say, or like I feel it,” he said. “I want to stress one more time: I feel like this operation has dragged on." He added, "We have done and are doing everything now so that there isn’t a war. Thanks to yours truly, me, that is, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun."
The Belarusian president condemned any possible nuclear weapon use due to his country's proximity to the region.
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"We are not across the ocean like the United States," Lukashenko explained. "It is also unacceptable because it might knock our terrestrial ball flying off the orbit to who knows where. Whether or not Russia is capable of that — is a question you need to ask the Russian leadership.”
Russia's military failed in the initial stage of the war, when its primary objective was to topple Kyiv. During the second and current phase, it has re-diverted its attention to the Donbas region, which is in eastern Ukraine and along the border with Russia, where a strong pro-Russian faction has engaged in fighting for years. Military leaders have said their new goal is to conquer that territory as well as the area connecting the Crimean Peninsula, which they annexed in 2014, and the Donbas.