Lukashenko: Belarusians will be on their knees like Ukraine if they ditch me
In response to the ongoing mass protests against the results of the recent presidential election in Belarus, the country’s president Aleksandr Lukashenko asserted that Belarus faces an existential threat from NATO and Ukraine.
In an emotional speech during a pro-regime meeting in Minsk, which is believed to be organized by the authorities, the country’s self-perpetuating leader accused NATO of saber-rattling.
“Somebody wants new elections,” he said. “Tanks and airplanes are 15 minutes away from our borders. NATO forces are rattling with caterpillar treads… Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine demand that we hold new elections. If we obey, we’ll dive into a nose-spin and will never stabilize our ‘aircraft.’ We are going to perish as a state, as people, and as a nation.”
“We don’t have to be Europe’s toilet!” he said.
If Belarus loses its president, according to Lukashenko, this would be the beginning of the country’s end.
“You’ll be standing on your knees like Ukraine and other countries and pray to no one knows whom,” he said.
In response to Lukashenko’s allegations, NATO stated later in the day that it had never had any intentions to invade Belarus.
“There is no NATO buildup in the region,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in a statement. “NATO’s multinational presence in the eastern part of the Alliance is not a threat to any country. It is strictly defensive, proportionate, and designed to prevent conflict and preserve peace.”
Earlier, on Aug. 15, following a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko said that Russia was ready to render security assistance to the Belarus regime if necessary.
Popular protests, with brutal clashes with riot police, continue in Belarus after Lukashenko, who has been ruling the country uninterruptedly since 1994, was declared the winner of the Aug. 9 presidential election. According to the authorities, 80% of the voters favored Lukashenko, while his rival candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya got only 10%. The latter left the country right after the election.
Nonetheless, the results triggered mass rallies across the country, with protesters demanding to recognize that the presidential election was rigged and Lukashenko to be ousted from power.
Many countries, including from the European Union bloc, said they do not recognize the Belarusian election due to an unprecedented scale of vote fraud by Lukashenko.
According to Lukashenko, it is the West that stands behind hundreds of Belarusian protesters.
Lukashenko also insisted that it was he who saved Belarus from the economic collapse in the 1990s.
At the end of this address, he bowed to the participants of the pro-regime rally, a move he’s done for the first time in his 26-year-long rule. According to the Belarusian authorities, 50,000 people participated in the pro-regime rally in Minsk.
The crowd responded to Lukashenko’s speech by chanting “Father!” and “Thank you!” as the perennial president was leaving the stage.