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22 Feb 2019

Belarus president concerned about possible deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe

Belarus president concerned about possible deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe

MINSK, 22 February (BelTA) – Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has expressed some concerns about the possible deployment of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles in Europe due to the situation surrounding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). The head of state offered his views on the matter as he met with cadets and professors of the Military Academy on 22 February, BelTA has learned.

The president remarked that among other things the matter had been discussed during his meeting with President of Russia Vladimir Putin. “His view is virtually the same as the view described in mass media,” he said.

Alexander Lukashenko stressed he believes Russia, which says it has not violated the INF Treaty and tries to find a response to Western accusations to the contrary. “But I don’t have information about it. It is hidden. Only a limited number of people know it,” the Belarusian leader noted.

Speaking about possible threats to Belarus’ security, Alexander Lukashenko stressed that “it is a catastrophe, particularly for us”. In his words, there is a school of thought stating that the USA’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty targets China, which has such weapons but has not signed the treaty. “Certainly, these missiles cannot fly across the Pacific Ocean to deliver a strike in America. Americans are primarily concerned about their Pacific allies – Korea, Japan, their own American bases over there,” the head of state noted.

“But I am afraid that Americans will grab the fleeting opportunity and will deploy the missiles in Europe after breaking the treaty. If they do, things will turn nasty for us, too. Because together with Russia we will have to think about reciprocal measures. It is unavoidable if it happens. It would be even worse if, god forbid, the missiles got deployed in Ukraine. This is why I am wholeheartedly against [dissolving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty]. We pursue a peace-loving policy. We don’t need quarrels between major powers, which, judging from history, we always suffer from. This is why we don’t need this slaughter, this fight, particularly now around the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,” Alexander Lukashenko stated.

The president said he believes that NATO may go ahead and deploy such missiles in Europe after all: “It seems to me that although NATO claims they are not going to deploy these missiles in Europe, they are running a bluff. Otherwise, why would they withdraw? Why did they have to destroy this treaty? They should have come to terms with China and make it part of the treaty if China was the focus of it.”

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