Lukashenko says no mobilisation in Belarus

Lukashenko says no mobilisation in Belarus

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said he was not planning a mobilisation after his close ally Russia announced it was calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists for the war in Ukraine. "The mobilisation is in Russia. ... There will be no mobilisation (here)," state media quoted Lukashenko as saying. The president, in power since 1994, said he was commenting on rumours that he planned to announce new measures in Belarus to support Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Russia is Belarus' main backer and the two neighbours are part of a borderless so-called "union state". Belarus also borders northern Ukraine and served…
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Belarus starts military exercises near border regions

Belarus starts military exercises near border regions

Sept 8 (Reuters) - Belarus has started military exercises by the city of Brest near the Polish border, its capital Minsk and the northeast region of Vitebsk, the defence ministry said on Thursday. It said the exercises, which are set to last until Sept. 14, will practice "liberating territory temporarily seized by the enemy" and regaining control over border regions. According to the ministry, the level of troops and military equipment involved in the exercise did not require them to provide notice under OSCE guidelines. Reporting by Reuters; Editing in Melbourne by Lidia Kelly Photo courtesy Belarus MOD
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Belarus President Lukashenko says Belarusian planes re-fitted to carry nuclear weapons

Belarus President Lukashenko says Belarusian planes re-fitted to carry nuclear weapons

Aug 26 (Reuters) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday that his military's SU-24 warplanes had been modified to carry nuclear weaponsand that Minsk would react immediately if the West caused it any problems. Lukashenko said he had agreed the move to modernise Belarusian warplanes with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Belta news agency reported. Belarus, a staunch Russian ally, does not have its own nuclear weapons. Lukashenko did not go into details about how a weapons transfer from Moscow, which is using Belarusian territory to mount what it calls its "special military operation" against Ukraine, might take place.…
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Belarus officials behind hoax that grounded dissident’s flight, U.N. agency says

Belarus officials behind hoax that grounded dissident’s flight, U.N. agency says

 (Reuters) - The U.N.'s aviation agency on Tuesday for the first time blamed senior Belarus officials for a hoax last year that grounded a Ryanair Holdings PLC flight and led to the arrest of a dissident reporter. The plane was on its way from Athens to Vilnius in May 2021 when Belarus controllers ordered it to land in Minsk, citing a bomb threat. Once it was on the ground, Belarus journalist Roman Protasevich was detained along with his then-girlfriend. The International Civil Aviation Organization, which had previously said it did not know who was behind the hoax, condemned Minsk for "committing an act…
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UK to introduce new sanctions on Belarus and Russian media

UK to introduce new sanctions on Belarus and Russian media

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain said it would on Tuesday introduce new economic, trade and transport sanctions on Belarus over its support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and also sanctioned six Russians it said were spreading disinformation. The Belarus package will include import and export bans on goods worth around 60 million pounds ($73 million), including on exports of oil refining goods, advanced technology components and luxury goods, and imports of Belarusian iron and steel. Britain will also ban more Belarusian companies from issuing debt and securities in London. "The Belarus regime has actively facilitated Putin's invasion, letting Russia use its territory…
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Belarus leader stands with Russia in its military drive in Ukraine

Belarus leader stands with Russia in its military drive in Ukraine

The president of Belarus -- Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin's closest ally -- said on Sunday his ex-Soviet state stood fully behind Russia in its military drive in Ukraine as part of its longstanding commitment to a "union state" with Moscow. Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994 and accused in the West of human rights abuses, has allowed Russian troops to use his country's territory in invading Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the Belarusian leader's statement amounted to a "signal", with his actions to be watched carefully. Some Ukrainian officials suggest Belarus could soon become directly involved in the conflict.…
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Poland condemns Belarus for vandalism of Polish graves

Poland condemns Belarus for vandalism of Polish graves

WARSAW, (Reuters) - Poland accused the Belarusian authorities of creating an "atmosphere of acquiescence" to acts of vandalism against Polish graves and demanded authorities punish perpetrators, adding to tensions between Warsaw and Minsk. Tensions have been running high between the neighbouring states over a migrant crisis that the European Union and Poland say was engineered by Belarus, a charge Minsk denies. The EU also accuses Minsk of supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Poland's foreign ministry said unknown perpetrators had recently damaged Polish tombstones and commemorations in several locations, mainly in Western Belarus, which used to be part of Poland before…
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UPDATED: Putin: Western political pressure speeding up Russia’s integration with Belarus

UPDATED: Putin: Western political pressure speeding up Russia’s integration with Belarus

President Vladimir Putin on Friday said political pressure from the West was accelerating Belarus's integration with neighbouring Russia, which has been proceeding on and off for more than two decades. "Unprecedented political and social pressure from the so-called collective West is pushing us to speed up the unification process: together to minimise the damage from the illegal sanctions, to make it simpler to master the output of required products, to develop new competencies, to expand cooperation with friendly countries," Putin told a bilateral forum. The two Slavic neighbours signed a Union Treaty in 1997 that was intended to restore some of the close ties…
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Putin promises Belarus Iskander-M missiles to counter “aggressive” West

Putin promises Belarus Iskander-M missiles to counter “aggressive” West

MOSCOW, June 25 (Reuters) - Russia will supply Belarus with Iskander-M missile systems within a few months, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a televised meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday. At the meeting, held in St Petersburg, Lukashenko told Putin that Belarus was concerned by the "aggressive", "confrontational" and "repulsive" policies of its neighbours Lithuania and Poland. He asked Putin to help Belarus mount a "symmetrical response" to what he said were nuclear-armed flights by the U.S.-led NATO alliance near Belarus's borders. "Minsk must be ready for anything, even the use of serious weaponry to defend our fatherland from Brest…
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Belarus jails Radio Liberty freelancer for six years for ‘extremism’

Belarus jails Radio Liberty freelancer for six years for ‘extremism’

A court in Belarus sentenced a freelance journalist for the Belarusian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to six years in jail on extremism charges, the broadcaster and the Spring-96 human rights organisation said. The trial of Andrey Kuznechik, who was arrested last November, was closed to the public. He was accused of creating an extremist group. The prosecution has not disclosed the details of the charges and it is not known how he pleaded in court. Calls to the court went unanswered. Belarus has labelled U.S.-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other independent media outlets extremist organisations. Some…
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UPDATED: Minsk will allow Ukrainian grain to transit Belarus in exchange for access to Baltic ports

UPDATED: Minsk will allow Ukrainian grain to transit Belarus in exchange for access to Baltic ports

June 3 (Reuters) - Minsk is ready to allow the transit of Ukraine's grain to Baltic Sea ports via Belarus if it is allowed to ship Belarusian goods from these ports, the Belta news agency quoted Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko as saying on Friday. Ukraine, a major global grain exporter, is unable to use its Black Sea ports for supplies since Russia sent thousands of troops to the country on Feb. 24. Exports from Ukraine via Belarus have been one of the options in discussions led by the United Nations which aim to boost global grain supply as a major food crisis…
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UPDATED: Lukashenko urges Russia-led CSTO military alliance to unite against West

UPDATED: Lukashenko urges Russia-led CSTO military alliance to unite against West

May 16 (Reuters) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday urged other members of a Russian-dominated military alliance to stand united, and accused the West of hoping to prolong the conflict in Ukraine to try to weaken Russia as much as possible. Lukashenko, speaking at a summit of the leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in Moscow, said "hellish sanctions" against his country and Russia could have been avoided if the group had spoken with one voice. "Without a united front, the collective West will build up pressure on the post-Soviet space," Lukashenko said in televised opening remarks, addressing Russian…
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Belarus deploying special forces to southern border near Ukraine

Belarus deploying special forces to southern border near Ukraine

Belarus will deploy special operations troops in three areas near its southern border with Ukraine, the armed forces said as President Alexander Lukashenko talked up the role of Russian-made missiles in boosting the country's defences. A close ally of Russia, Belarus said in March that its armed forces were not taking part in what Moscow calls its "special operation" in Ukraine, but it did serve as a launchpad for Russia to send thousands of troops across the border on Feb. 24. Minsk has complained for months about NATO countries amassing soldiers near its borders - Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are…
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Belarus bans EU-registered carriers from transporting heavy cargo in country

Belarus bans EU-registered carriers from transporting heavy cargo in country

May 6 (Reuters) - Belarus said on Friday that it is banning carriers registered in the European Union from transporting heavy cargo on its territory. "A ban is introduced for carriers registered in the European Union to move bulky cargo across the territory of Belarus. The exception is bulky cargo, the technological features of which do not allow going to the established places for reloading or re-transferring cargo (subject to approval by the Ministry of Transport), and car carriers," the government wrote on Telegram.
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UPDATED: Kremlin denies Russian troops have entered Ukraine’s Azovstal plant

UPDATED: Kremlin denies Russian troops have entered Ukraine’s Azovstal plant

May 5 (Reuters) - The Kremlin denied that Russian troops were storming the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's southern port city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are trapped, and said humanitarian corridors were operating there on Thursday. Asked if a claim by a senior Ukrainian official that Russian troops had broken into the plant's territory was true, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred reporters to President Vladimir Putin's previous order not to storm the plant. Putin called off plans for an assault on the plant last month, telling his defence minister to seal it off instead. Ukrainian forces inside Mariupol's Azovstal…
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Ex-Belarus leader Shushkevich, the man who sacked Gorbachev, dies at 87

Ex-Belarus leader Shushkevich, the man who sacked Gorbachev, dies at 87

 (Reuters) - Former Belarus leader Stanislav Shushkevich, the man who broke the news to Mikhail Gorbachev that the Soviet Union was being consigned to history, has died at the age of 87, Belarusian media quoted his wife as saying on Wednesday. Shushkevich was one of the three main actors, with Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Ukraine's Leonid Kravchuk, at a meeting in a Belarusian hunting lodge in December 1991 at which they sounded the death knell of the former superpower led by Gorbachev. "The USSR as a geopolitical reality, and as a subject of international law, has ceased to exist,"…
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UPDATED: Ukraine says it is ‘ready’ if Belarus joins Russian war effort

UPDATED: Ukraine says it is ‘ready’ if Belarus joins Russian war effort

KYIV, May 4 (Reuters) - Kyiv will be ready if Belarus's armed forces join Russia's war effort in Ukraine, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian State Border Service said on Wednesday. Belarus, a close ally of Russia, said its military had begun large-scale drills on Wednesday to test their combat readiness and that they posed no threat to its neighbours. "We do not rule out that the Russian Federation could at some point use the territory of Belarus, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, against Ukraine," said Andriy Demchenko, spokesperson for Ukraine's State Border Service. "Therefore, we are ready,"…
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U.S. targets seven Belarus national carrier planes for violating export controls

U.S. targets seven Belarus national carrier planes for violating export controls

The U.S. Commerce Department confirmed it had identified seven Boeing  737 Planes operated by Belarusian national carrier Belavia that are in apparent violation of U.S. export controls. The seven Belarusian-operated aircraft are the first to be identified since restrictions on Belarus were tightened last week. The Commerce Department said restrictions that bar them from operating services abroad should effectively ground them from future international flights. The list of planes subject to restrictions, imposed since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, now includes 146 Russian-owned or operated aircraft and seven Belarusian aircraft Belavia did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The…
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Belarus carried out ‘special operation’ to return its truckers from Ukraine -Belta

Belarus carried out ‘special operation’ to return its truckers from Ukraine -Belta

April 7 (Reuters) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that Minsk had been forced to carry out what he called a special operation to return truck drivers from Ukraine, the country's state-run news agency Belta reported. "It got to the point that these scoundrels began to capture our people there, primarily drivers ... that happened to be there at the time," Belta cited Lukashenko as saying. "I warned the Ukrainians that we would be forced to carry out an operation to free these people. We carried out such a special operation and freed all our people."
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Poland charges two persons with spying for Belarus

Poland charges two persons with spying for Belarus

Prosecutors in Poland have charged two men detained by the country’s military police and suspected of spying for Belarus. The two suspects, both Belarusian nationals, have been remanded in custody for three months following a court order, the tvp.info news website reported. A spokesman for the District Prosecutor's Office in the western city of Poznań, Łukasz Wawrzyniak, told reporters that "according to the findings of the military counterintelligence service, the two men conducted espionage activities, including reconnaissance of military and civilian facilities of critical importance to national defence." The suspects face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty…
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Kremlin says ‘nothing terrible will happen’ if Russia is expelled from G20; Belarus blocked from joining WTO

Kremlin says ‘nothing terrible will happen’ if Russia is expelled from G20; Belarus blocked from joining WTO

March 25 (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Friday that nothing terrible will happen if the United States and its allies succeed in expelling Russia from the Group of Twenty (G20) major economies because many of the G20's members are at economic war with Moscow anyway. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was commenting on remarks by U.S. President Joe Biden who said he favoured Russia being pushed out of the G20 after it sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine. "The G20 format is important, but in the current circumstances, when most of the participants are in a state of economic war…
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UPDATED: Belarus tells some Ukrainian diplomats to leave as fears increase Belarus could soon join war

UPDATED: Belarus tells some Ukrainian diplomats to leave as fears increase Belarus could soon join war

March 23 (Reuters) - Belarus has told some Ukrainian diplomats to leave the country and is closing its neighbour's consulate in the city of Brest, the country's BelTA news agency reported on Wednesday. On Tuesday the Belarusian security service, the KGB, accused eight Ukrainian diplomats of espionage. Russia has used Belarusian territory as a staging post for its invasion of Ukraine. The US and NATO believe that Belarus could "soon" join Russia in its war against Ukraine, US and NATO officials CNN reported, and that the country is already taking steps to do so. It is increasingly "likely" that Belarus will enter…
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Putin ‘in better shape than ever’, Belarus leader says

Putin ‘in better shape than ever’, Belarus leader says

March 19 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is healthy, sane and "in better shape than ever", his close ally Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has said in an interview with the Japanese television channel TBS. "He and I haven't only met as heads of state, we're on friendly terms," Lukashenko said in a recording of the interview shared by state news agency BelTA. "I'm absolutely privy to all his details, as far as possible, both state and personal." Russia used Belarusian territory as a staging post for its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Western leaders have suggested Putin made a costly…
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U.N. calls for release of political prisoners held in Belarus

U.N. calls for release of political prisoners held in Belarus

GENEVA, March 17 (Reuters) - The U.N. human rights chief said on Thursday that nearly 1,100 activists, opposition members and journalists are being detained on "politically motivated charges" in Belarus and called for their release. Michelle Bachelet said the government of President Alexander Lukashenko was carrying out violations of a "widespread and systematic nature" since large-scale protests against his contested victory in 2020's elections. The Minsk government carried out a "massive crackdown including widespread excessive use of force", she said in an address to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Bachelet also said that 13,500 people had been arrested after the August…
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UPDATED: Switzerland steps up economic sanctions against Belarus and Russia in line with EU

UPDATED: Switzerland steps up economic sanctions against Belarus and Russia in line with EU

ZURICH, March 16 (Reuters) - Neutral Switzerland has adopted more European Union sanctions against Russian individuals and entities published on Tuesday in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, the government said on Wednesday. "Switzerland's list of sanctions now fully mirrors that of the EU," it said, adding the individuals sanctioned included further oligarchs and prominent business people whose assets in Switzerland must be frozen as of midday. Switzerland has tightened its economic sanctions against Belarus, the government said on Wednesday, citing the eastern European country's support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Neutral Switzerland has adopted in full the economic sanctions against Belarus already imposed…
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ECB tells banks to check Russian, Belarusian clients; Some told to make extra checks on big payments, deposits

ECB tells banks to check Russian, Belarusian clients; Some told to make extra checks on big payments, deposits

FRANKFURT/MADRID (Reuters) - European Union regulators have told some banks to scrutinise transactions by all Russian and Belarusian clients, including EU residents, to ensure that they are not used to circumvent Western sanctions against Moscow, three sources told Reuters. The instructions from European Central Bank (ECB) supervisors mean tens of thousands of Russians and Belarusians resident in the EU face intense surveillance by their banks, which are on alert for big payments and deposits as well as new credit applications, the sources familiar with the matter said. While EU sanctions against Moscow exempt people holding temporary or permanent EU residence permits, they…
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Fears grow of new crisis as refugees in Belarus driven into Ukraine

Fears grow of new crisis as refugees in Belarus driven into Ukraine

Belarusian armed forces are pushing asylum seekers from the Middle East who became trapped in the country after they were promised passage to the EU to cross the border into war-torn Ukraine, according to the testimony of people in Belarusian camps. Dozens of asylum seekers stuck for months in a makeshift dormitory in Bruzgi, a village in Belarus less than a mile from the Polish border, were ordered by a group of Belarusian soldiers on 5 March to leave the building at gunpoint and given two options: crossing the border into Poland, where guards have beaten them back, or entering…
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UPDATED: Belarus denies plans to join Russian invasion but is ‘rotating’ troops at border

UPDATED: Belarus denies plans to join Russian invasion but is ‘rotating’ troops at border

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Belarus has no plans to join the Russian invasion of Ukraine but is sending five battalion tactical groups (BTGs) to its border on rotation to replace forces already stationed there, its Chief of General Staff Viktor Gulevich said on Saturday. A top Ukrainian security official on Friday warned Belarus not to send troops to Ukraine, saying Ukraine was showing restraint towards Belarus despite the country being used as a launchpad for Russian planes. “I want to underline that the transfer of troops is in no way connected with (any) preparation, and especially not with the participation of…
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Japan to freeze assets of 3 Belarusian banks, ban more exports to Russia

Japan to freeze assets of 3 Belarusian banks, ban more exports to Russia

TOKYO, March 11 (Reuters) - Japan will freeze the assets of three Belarusian banks from April 10 following new sanctions against the country over its involvement in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday. Payment and capital transactions with the three Minsk-based banks - Belagroprombank, Bank Dabrabyt and Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus - will require government permits, the ministry announced. The step followed the European Union's measure to block those banks from SWIFT, the international payments network.  To tighten sanctions, Tokyo is set to ban exports to Russia of an additional 57 items, which will…
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UPDATED: Putin sees “certain positive shifts” in talks with Ukraine

UPDATED: Putin sees “certain positive shifts” in talks with Ukraine

March 11 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday some progress had been made in Moscow's talks with Ukraine, while the Kremlin said the conflict would end when the West took action to address Moscow concerns. At a Kremlin meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin said Western sanctions would not hinder Russian development and that Russia would end up stronger. He then said Ukrainian negotiations were taking place practically every day. "There are certain positive shifts, negotiators on our side tell me," Putin said. "I will talk about all of this later." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukraine's…
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Lukashenko says Belarus army must prevent any attack on Russia from the rear

Lukashenko says Belarus army must prevent any attack on Russia from the rear

March 10 (Reuters) - Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko told his defence ministry on Thursday that the Belarus army must prevent any attack on Russian forces from the rear, the state news agency BelTa said. Russia used its ally Belarus as one of the launchpads for its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Lukashenko was quoted as telling defence chiefs that they must prevent any attempt - presumably by Ukrainian forces - to cut off Russian supply lines and "strike at Russians from the rear". A file photo of a Belarusian Army T-72 tank overrides a car during the Tank biathlon-2018 competition at…
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Belarusian forces will not take part in Ukraine war, Lukashenko says

Belarusian forces will not take part in Ukraine war, Lukashenko says

MOSCOW, March 4 (Reuters) - Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday that the Belarusian armed forces were not taking part and would not take part in Russia's military operation in Ukraine. A close Russian ally, Lukashenko said he spoke to President Vladimir Putin at length by telephone on Friday. Russia has used Belarusian territory to carry out a multi-pronged invasion of Ukraine. Photo (FILE) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. EPA-EFE/ANDREI STASEVICH / BELTA / POOL
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EU considering SWIFT exclusion for Belarus banks, sanctions on Russia starting to have an effect

EU considering SWIFT exclusion for Belarus banks, sanctions on Russia starting to have an effect

BRUSSELS, March 3 (Reuters) - The European Union is considering excluding banks in Belarus from the SWIFT messaging system that underpins the global financial transactions, as it has already done for seven Russian banks, an EU official said on Thursday. "On the SWIFT side, we're also looking now at the preparation of the equivalents for the Belarus financial sector, but knowing that SWIFT is not as strategically important in the Belarus economy as it is in the Russian side," the official said. Meanwhile, the European Union's sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine are starting to have an initial impact, an…
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EU bans 70% of Belarus exports to bloc with new sanctions over Ukraine invasion

EU bans 70% of Belarus exports to bloc with new sanctions over Ukraine invasion

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union has approved new sanctions against Belarus for its supporting role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, effectively banning about 70% of all imports from that country, the EU said on Wednesday. The fresh sanctions, which spare for now Belarusian banks, come after Minsk allowed Russian troops to move into Ukraine from its territory, as well as changed its constitution to allow permanent deployment of Russian forces and nuclear weapons on its soil. The measures include fresh economic sanctions and new listings of 22 high-ranking members of the Belarusian military involved in the aggression against Ukraine. The…
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Belarus says it boosts security on southern, western borders

Belarus says it boosts security on southern, western borders

MOSCOW, March 2 (Reuters) - Belarus said on Wednesday it had stepped up security at its western and southern borders as Russia invades neighbouring Ukraine. Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday that his country had no plans to join Russia's military operation in Ukraine and dismissed Kyiv's allegations that Russian troops were attacking Ukraine from Belarusian territory. Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Andrew Heavens Photo - A handout photo made available by Belta shows Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko . EPA-EFE/MAXIM GUCHEK / BELTA HANDOUT
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UPDATED: EU bans export of machinery to Belarus in new sanctions over Ukraine invasion

UPDATED: EU bans export of machinery to Belarus in new sanctions over Ukraine invasion

BRUSSELS, March 2 (Reuters) - The European Union has approved new sanctions against Belarus for its supporting role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the EU said on Wednesday, including a ban on exporting machinery to Minsk. The fresh sanctions, which have not been published yet and, for now, spare Belarusian banks, come after Minsk allowed Russian troops to move into Ukraine from its territory. The French Presidency of the EU said on Twitter the measures will include fresh economic sanctions and new listings of Belarusian officials and military involved in the aggression against Ukraine. They will hit "some economic sectors, and in…
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EU to impose new sanctions on Belarus this week

EU to impose new sanctions on Belarus this week

BRUSSELS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The European Union is planning to impose new sanctions on Belarus this week for helping the Russian invasion of Ukraine, hitting exports, oligarchs, central bank and cutting Belarusian banks off from SWIFT, a senior EU official said on Monday. "In terms of the economic sanctions package, it's imminent, it'll probably be proposed either today or tomorrow," the official, who asked not to be named, said. "I would expect that in the course of this week we will introduce restrictive measures against the most important economic sectors in Belarus," he said. The official said the aim…
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U.S. halts operations at embassy in Belarus, OKs evacuation from U.S. embassy in Moscow

U.S. halts operations at embassy in Belarus, OKs evacuation from U.S. embassy in Moscow

WASHINGTON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Operations at the U.S. embassy in Minsk have been suspended and non-emergency employees and family members are authorized to voluntarily depart the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Secretary of State Blinken said in a statement on Monday. "We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine," Blinken said. (Reporting by Katharine Jackson; editing by Susan Heavey)
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Indications of imminent deployment of Belarusian paratroopers in Ukraine

Indications of imminent deployment of Belarusian paratroopers in Ukraine

The Kyiv Independent is reporting that Belarusian paratroopers could be deployed to Ukraine as early as this morning. The news outlet says it has multiple sources saying the decision has been made and that as soon as 28 February at 5am local time, the first Il-76 transport aircraft is very likely to take off carrying Belarusian paratroopers to be deployed against Ukraine. Belarus's armed forces include nearly 45,000 military personnel, according to local media, and it is thought that those deployed to Ukraine could be sent to the Kyiv or the Zhytomyr areas. Belarusian opposition media has launched an anti-war…
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UPDATED: Mass arrests as Belarus confirms ditching non-nuclear status in referendum vote

UPDATED: Mass arrests as Belarus confirms ditching non-nuclear status in referendum vote

Feb 28 (Reuters) - About 800 people were arrested as Belarus voted to ditch its non-nuclear status in a referendum that raises the stakes at a time when the country has become a staging ground for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the government said on Monday. The vote sparked the biggest protests in months as thousands took to the streets in Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has imposed a sweeping crackdown on dissent after a contested election challenged his grip on power in 2020. The vote to change the constitution, passed by 65% according to official data, could see nuclear…
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Launchpad for Russia’s assault on Ukraine, Belarus holds referendum to renounce non-nuclear status

Launchpad for Russia’s assault on Ukraine, Belarus holds referendum to renounce non-nuclear status

Feb 27 (Reuters) - Belarus held a referendum on Sunday to adopt a new constitution that would ditch its non-nuclear status at a time when the country has become a launchpad for Russian troops invading Ukraine and marching on Kyiv. The vote, almost certain to pass under the tightly controlled rule of President Alexander Lukashenko, could see nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country gave them up after the fall of the Soviet Union. It raises the stakes at a time when Lukashenko has fallen behind Russian President Vladimir Putin's military assault on Ukraine after earlier playing an intermediary…
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Russian troop withdrawal depends in part on NATO pullback, Belarus says

Russian troop withdrawal depends in part on NATO pullback, Belarus says

MOSCOW, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Belarus said on Monday that the withdrawal of Russian troops from its territory would depend to a large extent on NATO pulling back its forces from near Belarus and Russia, opening up the possibility they could remain there indefinitely. Russia deployed what NATO called its biggest military force to Belarus since the Cold War ended for joint exercises that started on Feb. 10, part of a wider buildup near Ukraine that has fuelled fears of a looming war.  The exercises to the north of Ukraine were meant to end on Sunday, but instead Minsk announced they would…
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UPDATED: Russia, Belarus extend huge military exercises – Belarus ministry

UPDATED: Russia, Belarus extend huge military exercises – Belarus ministry

MOSCOW/DONETSK, Ukraine, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Russia and Belarus are extending military drills that were due to end on Sunday, the Belarus defence minister said, in a step that further intensifies pressure on Ukraine as Western leaders warn of an imminent Russian invasion. The decision to extend the drills was taken because of military activity near the borders of Russia and Belarus and an escalation of the situation in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, the Belarusian defence ministry said in a statement. NATO says Russia has up to 30,000 troops in Belarus and could use them as part of an invasion…
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UPDATED: Belarus leader says will take part in overseeing military drills with Putin on Saturday

UPDATED: Belarus leader says will take part in overseeing military drills with Putin on Saturday

MOSCOW, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday he would take part in overseeing military drills on Saturday along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the RIA news agency reported. Lukashenko made the remark at talks with Putin in Moscow. He did not say which drills. Minsk and Moscow are holding large joint exercises in Belarus. Putin is expected to oversee drills of Russia's nuclear forces on Saturday. Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko landed in Moscow on Friday for talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin that Minsk said could determine how much longer Russian military forces remain in the ex-Soviet…
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Russia starts Belarus military drills amid new diplomacy on Ukraine

Russia starts Belarus military drills amid new diplomacy on Ukraine

MOSCOW, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Russia started the active phase of military drills in Belarus on Thursday as Britain launched new diplomacy in a standoff over Ukraine, warning Moscow that going to war with its neighbour would be disastrous for Russia, Ukraine and Europe. U.S. officials have warned that Russia may attack Ukraine after massing troops near its borders, and have accused Moscow of raising tensions further by holding joint military exercises in Belarus with what NATO says is Russia's biggest deployment to the country since the Cold War. Russia denies planning an attack, and says it has the right…
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Vast drills spotlight Russia’s grip on Belarus during standoff with West

Vast drills spotlight Russia’s grip on Belarus during standoff with West

MOSCOW, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Russia launches the active phase of vast military exercises in Belarus on Thursday, a display of strength that shows how Moscow's tightening grip on Minsk has given it enhanced capabilities in its standoff with the West over Ukraine. The joint Allied Resolve drills that NATO has described as Russia's biggest deployment to ex-Soviet Belarus since the Cold War run until Feb. 20 and are part of a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that has stirred fears of a looming invasion. Russia, which denies any invasion plans, has not disclosed how many troops will be involved.…
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U.S. imposes visa restrictions on Belarusian nationals

U.S. imposes visa restrictions on Belarusian nationals

The United States said it was imposing visa restrictions on several Belarusians, citing the repression of athletes abroad including the attempted forced repatriation of a sprinter at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a flight back home last year when she was removed from the games against her will after publicly complaining about national team coaches. She defected to Poland, saying she feared for her safety if she returned to Belarus. President Alexander Lukashenko has said she was "manipulated." "We stand in solidarity with Ms. Tsimanouskaya and all others who have experienced the regime's attempts to silence…
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UPDATED: NATO says Russia has sent some 30,000 combat troops, modern weapons to Belarus

UPDATED: NATO says Russia has sent some 30,000 combat troops, modern weapons to Belarus

BRUSSELS, Feb 3 (Reuters) - NATO said Russia had stepped up deployments to Ukraine's northern neighbour Belarus in recent days and was expected to have 30,000 troops there for joint military exercises this month. The Russia-Belarus exercises, running until Feb. 20, have provided Moscow with cover to further increase forces near Ukraine at a time when the United States and Britain have warned that Moscow may be gearing up for war. Ukraine's defence minister said Russia had currently massed a total of 115,000 troops near Ukraine's borders. Russia denies planning to invade Ukraine and has described the Allied Resolve exercises…
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Germany’s spy chief says Moscow hasn’t made decision on Ukraine attack

Germany’s spy chief says Moscow hasn’t made decision on Ukraine attack

BERLIN, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Russia is prepared to attack Ukraine but has not yet decided whether to do so, the head of Germany's foreign intelligence service (BND) said amid escalating tensions between Moscow and Kyiv. Russia has massed troops near Ukraine's border but says it does not plan to invade. The United States has spent weeks trying to build agreement with European partners on a strong sanctions package if Russia attacks. "I believe that the decision to attack has not yet been made," Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany's foreign intelligence service, told Reuters in an interview. The crisis…
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Russian forces will leave Belarus once drills are over, Minsk says

Russian forces will leave Belarus once drills are over, Minsk says

MOSCOW, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Russian military forces will leave Belarus once joint exercises between the two ex-Soviet countries are over next month, the Belarusian Ministry of Defence said on Thursday. The deployments to Belarus, north of Ukraine, are part of a wider Russian military buildup in the region that has stoked Western fears that Moscow is planning to attack Ukraine. Russia denies any such plan. "At the end of the inspection, military units and sub-units of the Russian Federation's Armed Forces will leave the territory of the Republic of Belarus," the ministry said. The Russian rouble, which has been…
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Russian troops, army vehicles arrive in Belarus for a joint military drill

Russian troops, army vehicles arrive in Belarus for a joint military drill

Russian soldiers and military vehicles began to arrive in Belarus on Monday, Jan. 24, reportedly for a joint military exercise. Footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry shows as military vehicles were loaded on wagons which carried them to Belarus. The Union Resolve 2022 Russia-Belarus joint drills will run on Belarusian territory on February 10-20. The drills will assess the ability of military command centers and troops. The move came at a time of rising tensions with the West over neighboring Ukraine. The US, with its European allies, has been warning that Russia is setting the stage for an invasion of Ukraine and has…
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Factbox: Russian military drills in Belarus create new threats for Ukraine

Factbox: Russian military drills in Belarus create new threats for Ukraine

Joint military exercises between Russia and Belarus in the coming weeks will provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with new options if he decides to attack Ukraine and will further stretch that country's defences, military analysts say. The "Allied Resolve" manoeuvres will take place near Belarus' western border with NATO members Poland and Lithuania and its southern border with Ukraine. Russia already has tens of thousands of troops to the north, east and south of Ukraine, although it denies any intention to invade. NEW FRONT, NEW THREATS The deployment of Russian forces in Belarus creates a new potential front line for…
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Russia sends two S-400 battalions to Belarus for drills

Russia sends two S-400 battalions to Belarus for drills

MOSCOW, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Russia is sending two battalions of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems to Belarus to join military drills there next month, the Interfax news agency said on Friday, at a time of acute tensions with the West over neighbouring Ukraine. Russian military forces and hardware began arriving in Belarus this week for the "Allied Resolve" drills to be held near the former Soviet republic's western border with NATO members Poland and Lithuania, and close to its southern flank with Ukraine. Western states fear that Russia, which has massed tens of thousands of troops on its borders with…
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Fears arrival of Russian troops could lead to nuclear weapons in Belarus

Fears arrival of Russian troops could lead to nuclear weapons in Belarus

The United States is worried that the arrival of Russian troops in Belarus for exercises could become a permanent presence that might lead to nuclear weapons into the country, a senior State Department official told reporters. Russian military forces were moving into Belarus after Moscow-allied strongman Alexander Lukashenko announced Monday that the two countries will conduct military exercises next month. The move, which came without customary advance notice being provided countries in the region, added to rising tensions with the West over the possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, which borders Belarus. The US official, speaking on grounds of anonymity, said the size of the Russian…
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Russia and Belarus plan joint military drills in February – Lukashenko

Russia and Belarus plan joint military drills in February – Lukashenko

MOSCOW, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Russia and Belarus will hold joint military drills in February, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday, amid soaring tensions between East and West over Ukraine. Russia, a close ally of Belarus, has worried the West and Kyiv with a troop build-up near Ukraine's borders and a barrage of threatening rhetoric, stirring fears that it plans to invade. Moscow denies any such plan, but has used the standoff to campaign for security guarantees from the West, including a halt to NATO expansion and a formal veto on Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, ever joining the…
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Ukraine suspects group linked to Belarus intelligence over cyberattack

Ukraine suspects group linked to Belarus intelligence over cyberattack

KYIV, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Kyiv believes a hacker group linked to Belarusian intelligence carried out a cyberattack that hit Ukrainian government websites this week and used malware similar to that used by a group tied to Russian intelligence, a senior Ukrainian security official said. Serhiy Demedyuk, deputy secretary of the national security and defence council, told Reuters that Ukraine blamed Friday's attack - which defaced government websites with threatening messages - on a group known as UNC1151 and that it was cover for more destructive actions behind the scenes. "We believe preliminarily that the group UNC1151 may be involved…
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Belarus jails opposition leader’s husband for 18 years

Belarus jails opposition leader’s husband for 18 years

Syarhei Tsikhanouski, the husband of Belarus's opposition leader, was sentenced on Tuesday to 18 years in jail for organising mass unrest and inciting social hatred, the official Belta news agency reported. Five supporters of Tsikhanouski were tried along with him and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 16 years. Tsikhanouski, a video blogger, was jailed in May 2020 as he prepared to run against Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko in a presidential election in August that year. He denied the charges. His wife Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya ran in his place in the election, which led to months of mass protests after Lukashenko claimed…
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Belarus’ Lukashenko repeats threat to block gas transit to Europe

Belarus’ Lukashenko repeats threat to block gas transit to Europe

MOSCOW, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Belarus' leader Alexander Lukashenko has again warned that Minsk could suspend the transit of gas across its territory to Europe in response to new Western sanctions, TASS news agency reported on Monday. Lukashenko threatened last month to retaliate against any new European Union sanctions, including by shutting down the transit of Russian natural gas and goods via Belarus. The Kremlin said on Monday it hoped nothing would stop Russia from meeting its contractual obligations on gas supplies after Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko repeated a threat to block gas transit across Belarusian territory to Europe. Photo…
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