“The only mistake” Russia and Belarus made was “that we didn’t resolve this issue in 2014-2015, when Ukraine had no army and wasn’t prepared,” Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko said.
In 2014, Russia illegally invaded Crimea and annexed it from Ukraine, and Kremlin-backed fighters seized territory in eastern Ukraine.
Lukashenko’s comments, which according to Minsk were delivered Thursday during a meeting with the heads of security agencies of the Commonwealth of Independent States, made up of former Soviet countries, indicate that Lukashenko has fully embraced his transformation into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s puppet.
Lukashenko has had a love-hate relationship with Putin over his nearly three decades in power. But after the Kremlin helped him see off massive street protests following a fraudulent presidential election in 2020, the Belarusian dictator went all-in on Putin, helping Moscow launch its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and agreeing to host Russian nuclear weapons on his country’s soil.
According to the Belarusian readout of Lukashenko’s speech in Minsk, he claimed: “We saw this coming,” referring to the Russian invasion. The readout continued that if the war had not begun last year, “it would have started tomorrow, but with worse conditions for Russia and Belarus.”
Quoting the Belarusian president, the readout claimed he said: “The only mistake we made, probably, is that we didn’t resolve this issue in 2014-2015, when Ukraine had no army. We wanted to settle it peacefully. They, however, used this time to develop combat-ready armed forces.”