Moscow/Minsk: – Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a stern warning that if the agitators in Belarus take extreme steps to overthrow the Lukashenko government, the Russian reserve force will intervene. This warning by the Russian President comes within just 24 hours of the visit of US Deputy State Secretary, Stephen Bigan. Strong reaction has been received from the European Union over the Russian President’s warning, and the Union has taken a decision to impose sanctions against twenty senior leaders and officials from Belarus.
Against the background of the three-week-old agitation in Belarus, Russian President Putin gave an interview to the government news channel Russia-24. The Russian President informed that Russia is committed to the security of Belarus and informed that he had assured Belarus President Lukashenko regarding this. President Putin said, ‘As per the agreement signed between Russia and Belarus, there is a provision to assist each other in the matters of sovereignty, stability and security of the borders. This is no secret. President Lukashenko has requested Russia for the deployment of Russian reserve security forces. But the Russian reserve forces will be deployed only if the situation in Belarus gets out of hand.’
While saying that the Russian reserve forces are in a state of readiness, Putin issued a stern warning to the agitators as well as the western countries. The Russian President warned that if the agitators take extreme steps for overthrowing the Lukashenko government and resort to violence, the consequences will not be good. Putin issued a stern warning that against the background of the political crisis in Belarus, some foreign powers are trying to influence the political processes there. These factions feel that the decisions should be in their political interests. But Russia will not tolerate this.
Presidential elections were held in Belarus on the 9th of August. Lukashenko, leading Belarus for the last 26 years, claimed to have received 80% of the votes. It was said that his opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya got only 10% of the votes. But the political parties and the international community are alleging large scale malpractices in the election process, and massive protests have started against President Lukashenko. These protests, which have lasted for more than two weeks, have been supported by the European countries along with the United States. The Russian government has not openly opposed the protests, as the protestors’ stand is not against Russia. But at the same time, Russia has warned that the United States and the European countries should not interfere in the protests.
The United States and the European Union are trying to work out a solution with assistance from Russia. US Deputy State Secretary, Stephen Bigan, met the senior Russia leaders. The main countries from the European Union, Germany and France, had telephonic discussions with the Russian President. But it is apparent from the warning issued by the Russian President that the efforts of the United States and Europe have failed as of now. Therefore, analysts are indicating that the Belarus issue, like Ukraine, will be responsible for festering relations between the western countries and Russia.