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Putin satisfies dictator Lukashenko in Belarus fuelling fears ally will be part of new offensive in Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin achieved dictator Alexander Lukashenko currently throughout a uncommon visit to Belarus, fuelling fears in Kyiv that he intends to pressure his ex-Soviet ally to be a part of a new floor offensive that would open up up a new front against Ukraine. 

Putin’s visit for talks with the Belarusian President is his 1st to Minsk because 2019 and the Russian President will concentration on deepening his ties with Belarus at a time when his army is having difficulties with its invasion of Ukraine. 

The Kremlin has for several years sought to deepen integration with Belarus, which relies on Moscow for affordable oil and loans, but Lukashenko has so far resisted outright unification with Russia, regardless of being a critical ally in the war.

Even so, speculation mounted in advance of Putin’s visit that he would stress Lukashenko to ship his troops to Ukraine together with Russia’s armed forces right after a series of defeats for Moscow in practically 10 months of battling. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin met dictator Alexander Lukashenko currently all through a unusual check out to Belarus, fuelling fears in Kyiv that he intends to pressure his ex-Soviet ally to join a clean ground offensive that would open up a new front towards Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin soon after flying into the Belarusian capital Minsk, Belarus today

Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly following flying into the Belarusian cash Minsk, Belarus currently

Putin’s troops have been pushed back in Ukraine’s north, north-east and south. Belarus is considered to have Soviet-era weapon stockpiles that could be helpful for Moscow, although Lukashenko desires assist with his country’s ailing overall economy. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov informed Russian information businesses that despite the fact that Belarus was Russia’s ‘No1 ally’, strategies that Moscow wants to strain Minsk into signing up for what it phone calls its ‘special military operation’ had been ‘stupid and unfounded fabrications’.

Serhiy Nayev, Ukraine’s Joint Forces Commander, mentioned he considered the talks would deal with ‘further aggression against Ukraine and the broader involvement of the Belarusian armed forces in the operation versus Ukraine, in individual, in our impression, also on the ground’.

Ukraine’s top common, Valery Zaluzhny, told the Economist very last 7 days that Russia was planning 200,000 fresh troops for a key offensive that could occur from the east, south or even from Belarus as early as January, but a lot more most likely in spring.

Russian forces employed Belarus as a start pad for their abortive attack on the Ukrainian money Kyiv in February, and there has been Russian and Belarusian military services exercise there for months. Three Russian warplanes and an airborne early warning and management aircraft were deployed to Belarus past week. 

Putin's visit for talks with the Belarusian President is his first to Minsk since 2019 and the Russian President will focus on deepening his ties with Belarus at a time when his army is struggling with its invasion of Ukraine

Putin’s pay a visit to for talks with the Belarusian President is his very first to Minsk since 2019 and the Russian President will emphasis on deepening his ties with Belarus at a time when his army is struggling with its invasion of Ukraine

Hrs prior to Putin touched down in Minsk, Russia introduced its forces were being operating military services physical exercises with Belarusian forces. 

The defence ministry released footage of drills in Belarus, displaying soldiers conducting tank manoeuvres, and practising artillery and sniper hearth at a snowy teaching floor.

Ahead of Putin’s check out, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the predicament on Ukraine’s border with Russia and Belarus as a ‘constant priority’.

‘We are making ready for all probable defence scenarios,’ Mr Zelensky reported, adding that he had a short while ago discussed the border locations with armed forces commanders.

In October, Belarus announced the development of a joint regional drive with Moscow with several thousand Russian servicemen arriving in the ex-Soviet country, fuelling problems Minsk could also send out troops to Ukraine.

But Lukashenko, a pariah in the West who depends greatly on Moscow for guidance, has consistently stated Belarus will not enter the war in Ukraine. International diplomats say committing Belarusian troops would be deeply unpopular at house.

Western sanctions have currently made it hard for Belarus to ship potash fertilisers, its leading export, through Baltic ports.

Western armed service analysts say Lukashenko’s compact military lacks the energy and battle working experience to make a big distinction – but that by forcing Ukraine to commit forces to its north it could go away it far more exposed to Russian assaults in other places.

The Pentagon explained on December 13 that it did not see ‘any sort of impending cross-border action by Belarus at this time’.

Meanwhile, Putin took elaborate steps to prevent becoming shot down by the Ukrainian armed service as he flew to Minsk, it was claimed. 

It is believed the Kremlin chief flew in from St Petersburg – somewhat than Moscow – to avoid passing shut to the frontier of Ukraine, in accordance to promises. 

He was noted to have acquired a fighter escort as he approached Minsk. At the exact same time, two other Ilyushin aircraft took off to ‘confuse the enemy’, reported Belarus opposition channel MotolkoHelp.

Meanwhile, Putin’s arrival on an icy runway in Minsk arrived hrs just after Russian forces released a swarm of explosive drones at significant infrastructure in Kyiv, injuring 3 men and women and creating emergency blackouts in a dozen regions. 

Russia has pounded Ukraine with 35 more Iranian-made kamikaze drones, hitting a key energy hub in a huge explosion

Russia has pounded Ukraine with 35 extra Iranian-made kamikaze drones, hitting a crucial vitality hub in a substantial explosion

Putin’s check out was announced on Friday after a surprise December 3 trip to Belarus by his defence minister Sergei Shoigu, in which he signed an undisclosed settlement with his Belarusian counterpart.

Adding to the ominous mood, Belarusian foreign minister Vladimir Makei, a single of the few officials in Lukashenko’s authorities with any rapport with the West, died suddenly previous thirty day period. No official trigger of dying has been introduced.

His successor, Sergei Aleinik, fulfilled Russian overseas minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

Lukashenko mentioned he and Putin would go over a lengthy-running hard work to integrate their respective former Soviet republics in a supranational ‘union state’. The talks are noticed by the Belarus opposition as a car for a creeping Russian annexation.

Belarus’s condition information agency, BelTA, said they would answer inquiries from reporters pursuing their talks.

At a govt meeting after the talks with Putin were announced, Lukashenko unexpectedly stated that any ceding of sovereignty would be a betrayal of the Belarusian people.

The drones were unleashed in the early hours of Monday as many people slept, hitting critical infrastructure in and around Kyiv

The drones have been unleashed in the early hours of Monday as lots of individuals slept, hitting essential infrastructure in and around Kyiv

‘Particularly right after these huge-scale negotiations, everyone will say: ‘That’s it, there are no for a longer period any authorities in Belarus, the Russians are already going for walks about and functioning the country’,’ Lukashenko stated.

‘I want to again underline this in particular: No one particular other than us runs Belarus.’

He reported he would go over financial co-procedure, energy provides, defence and security with Putin.

Russian companies quoted Peskov as indicating ‘no one particular is pressuring any one to integrate’.

In the meantime, Russia released a sequence of drone assaults on Kyiv. Moscow also stated it experienced shot down many US-made missiles over its airspace close to Ukraine. 

‘I very first read the air raid siren howling from the street… I thought there is going to be a drone assault. For the 1st time, it frightened me,’ Natalia Dobrovolska, a 68-yr-aged resident of Kyiv, reported.

She explained hearing multiple explosions right before electric power shut off in her constructing in western Kyiv. Officials explained Russia experienced dispatched 35 attack drones nationwide, including 23 over Kyiv.

Ukraine stated it experienced downed 30 of the aerial weapons, including Iranian-designed ‘Shaheds’, which have pummelled the money in modern weeks.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko explained critical infrastructure amenities ended up ‘damaged’ when regional authorities stated 9 homes experienced been strike in the attacks.

Meanwhile, electricity operator Ukrenergo declared that unexpected emergency electrical power outages were scheduled in the capital and practically a dozen locations.

At the similar time, Moscow reported its air defence methods had shot down 4 US-produced missiles above Belgorod, a Russian area bordering Ukraine, in one particular of its initially this sort of promises in practically 10 months of battling.

‘Four American ‘HARM’ anti-radar missiles have been shot down in the airspace above the Belgorod area,’ the defence ministry mentioned on social media.

The Ukrainian Emergency Ministry released pictures of a fire at a critical power infrastructure after the drone attack in Kyiv

The Ukrainian Unexpected emergency Ministry launched photos of a fire at a critical power infrastructure immediately after the drone attack in Kyiv

Under the darkness of night, a fire raged at one site at an energy facility in the often targeted central Shevchenkivskyi district, a witness said

 Under the darkness of evening, a hearth raged at one particular internet site at an vitality facility in the usually specific central Shevchenkivskyi district, a witness claimed

Ukraine has knowledgeable recurrent and fatal aerial assaults in the 10 months considering that Russia invaded in late February.

After a sequence of battlefield setbacks and shed territory this summer months and autumn, Moscow stepped up its aerial campaign to focus on the country’s electricity grid.

With winter setting in, missile and drone attacks have plunged metropolitan areas all-around the state into darkness, and severed water and heat provides to thousands and thousands of Ukrainians.

Soon after a big Russian assault aiming additional than 70 missiles on cities last Friday, the national electrical energy operator was forced to impose emergency rolling blackouts as it raced to maintenance the battered power grid.

Speaking to the leaders of quite a few Nato nations by videolink immediately after the drone attacks Monday, Mr Zelensky urged Ukraine’s allies to offer its armed forces with a lot more weapons.

‘Russian aggression can and have to fail. And our undertaking now is to speed up it,’ he advised the leaders assembled in Riga, Latvia.

He claimed in a late-night time address on Sunday that some 9 million men and women had their electrical energy restored soon after Russia’s most up-to-date missile barrage very last 7 days. Ukraine has an approximated population of 40million.

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