Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsihanoskaya in an interview with AP in Tallinn, Estonia

an Opposition leader in exile from Belarus said yesterday [Macau time] He said that his soldiers should lay down their weapons if they were sent to Ukraine under pressure from Russia.

Russia used Belarus as a staging ground for troops and weapons when it invaded Ukraine eight months ago. Fears persist that autocratic Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will agree to send his country’s troops south to Ukraine.

Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsyhanuskaya, who has been in exile in Lithuania since 2020, said the Belarusian leader had been taken hostage by Moscow’s powerful ally, which provides political and economic support. She opposes Belarus’ direct involvement in the war.

“If the Belarusian army deploys under pressure or threat, we urge our soldiers to lay down their weapons, join the guerrillas, change sides and join the Ukrainian army,” Tsiknoskaya said during a visit to Estonia. Told.

Moscow has poured billions of dollars into the Soviet-style state-run Belarusian economy with cheap energy and loans. Lukashenko, who has been president since 1994, survived the largest mass protests in the country’s history after accusing the opposition and the West of being rigged after the 2020 presidential elections.

Tikhanuskaya ran against Lukashenko in that election and many believed she had won. She was forced to leave Belarus under pressure from the government.

“Of course, Lukashenko is very dependent on the Kremlin, because it was the Kremlin that helped him stay in power in 2020, and now he is paying off his debts to the Kremlin,” said Chikanoskaya. told the Associated Press.

Lukashenko has officially endorsed Russia’s attack on Ukraine, sparking international criticism and sanctions against Minsk. Yet he has repeatedly denied his speculation that Belarus will send its own soldiers to fight alongside Russia.

But earlier this month, Belarusian officials announced the creation of a joint “Regional Group of Armed Forces” with Russia, saying about 9,000 Russian soldiers would be stationed in Belarus.

Tsikhanoskaya said there is currently no evidence that Belarus plans to deploy in Ukraine. With 1,000 kilometers of the Belarusian-Ukrainian border covered in mines, “Ukrainian forces are also preparing for possible attacks from Belarus,” she said.

She also objected to Belarus’ storage of Russian nuclear weapons.

“Here’s a possible plan they have: If Putin’s irrational thinking suddenly leads him to do this horrible thing with terrible consequences, it will be done from Belarusian territory. “You’re not alone like this, you have an ally,” predicted Tiskanuskaya.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Belarusians volunteered to fight in Ukraine as part of the Kastus Kalinosky Regiment. Another guerrilla movement in Belarus disrupted the movement with rails of Russian military equipment.

“The man who in 2020 took off his shoes and stood on the bench[during the demonstrations]is now fighting in the Kalinosky Regiment,” Chkakhovskaya said. “I find that Belarusians are not so patient…but I remain committed to peaceful change.”

Tikhanoskaya formed a cabinet in exile, joined by two former security officials. She called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to form an “alliance with democratic Belarus,” but she has yet to receive a response.

Still, Tsyhanuskaya said, “Belarus should be considered an occupied territory.”

“Now is not the time to compare our pain,” said Tihanuskaya. “We are now in the same boat. It takes advantage of the fact that Belarus also does not consider itself a sovereign independent state.”

Lukashenko has severely quelled mass anti-government protests sparked by his 2020 re-election. The police arrested 35,000 of him and brutally beat the score. Tsikhanouskaya told his AP that from 150,000 he said 200,000 Belarusians have left the country and 1,349 political prisoners are currently incarcerated.

Among them are co-winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Ares Biaryacki, founder of Belarus’ most prominent human rights organization, and Cihanuskaya’s husband, opposition politician Siahei Tikhanuski. Yulas Karmanau & Dasha Litvinova, Tallinn, MDT/AP

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