Belarusian President Lukashenko has apparently ordered the nation’s military to full alert claiming that NATO forces in Poland and Lithuania are massing in reaction to the nation’s disputed election results. According to Duetche Welle,
Belarus’ BelTA state news agency on Saturday cited Alexander Lukashenko as ordering his defense minister to enact “the most stringent” army measures while visiting military units at Grodno, near the country’s border with Poland.
The autocratic six-term president again claimed NATO troops in Poland and Lithuania were “seriously stirring” near Belarus’s borders — assertions denied by trans-Atlantic leaders in recent days.
Belarus’ army must “protect the territorial integrity of our country,” said Lukashenko, adding “military support is evident,” a reference to NATO.
Lukashenko is being bolstered by Russian President Putin, who has offered Russian military assistance. Putin in turn warned the EU against interference in a call with their leadership, leading the Kremlin to make issue the following:
“The unacceptability of any outside interference in the affairs of the republic and the lack of alternatives for the settlement of all internal Belarusian problems by the leadership of this country in dialogue with its citizens was emphasized”
Clearly their stance is one of non-intervention by the West, with the contested election hinging on Lukashenko, an ally of the Kremlin and EU-friendly challenger Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
Both Lithuania and Poland have a contemporary fear of invasion by the Russians amid more favorable relations with NATO. US Special Operations Forces have been advising Lithuanian security forces for at least the past three years, confirmed by an official Lithuanian government statement.
With the looming domestic troubles at home, this may be the opportunity the Kremlin is looking for to expand its presence in central Europe.