Alexander Lukashenko knows Putin better than most.
Belarus’ autocratic government is a Kremlin friend and supports Mr. Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, which most of the world regards as Russia’s war.
On Thursday, Mr. Lukashenko met with local media and was asked whether he would allow Belarus to be used as a staging area for Russia’s invasion.
“I’m ready. I’ll provide territory again. I’ll fight alongside Russia from Belarus,” he told assembled reporters.
Joint drills and a military grouping have increased Russia-Belarus military cooperation. However, the Belarusian commander has not sent his troops into Ukraine to battle with Russia.
The UK, EU and US don’t recognise Alexander Lukashenko as Belarus’s president. Belarusians marched in 2020 to accuse him of stealing the presidential election. Protests were violently suppressed.
Mr. Lukashenko blamed the West for Ukraine’s war on Thursday.
He accused Western governments of fuelling the war and utilised Putinesque nuclear sabre-rattling techniques.
“You will obtain nuclear weapons but Russia has more,” he added.
“The West needs to stop what it’s doing. Belarus will vanish in a nuclear war. Nuclear war will destroy the US, so we must negotiate. It’s unnecessary.”
The Belarusian leader says he can negotiate peace after helping Russia invade Ukraine a year ago.
Mr. Lukashenko recommended starting next week, when US President Joe Biden is due to visit Poland.
Mr. Lukashenko invited President Biden. “He’ll reach Minsk in 30 minutes from Warsaw. His jet may land here. I’ll invite Russia’s president. I invite him and Biden to Minsk. We’ll negotiate.”
The US president is unlikely to accept the invitation. Lukashenko is not trusted in this battle by Western governments.
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