MOSCOW (AFP) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday (July 2) said his army had shot down missiles fired into their territory from Ukraine and vowed to respond “instantly” to any enemy strike.
“We are being provoked,” Lukashenko was quoted as saying by state news agency Belta.
“I must tell you that around three days ago, maybe more, they tried to strike military targets in Belarus from Ukraine.
“Thank God, our Pantsir anti-air systems intercepted all the missiles fired by the Ukrainian forces.”
Ukraine last week said missiles fired from Belarus had struck a border region inside its territory.
Lukashenko on Saturday denied his country was seeking to intervene in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but issued a warning aimed at Kyiv and its Western allies.
“As I said more than a year ago, we do not intend to fight in Ukraine,” he said.
“We will only fight in one case. If you... enter our land, if you kill our people, then we will respond,” he added, warning that Belarus would reply “instantly” to an enemy strike on its soil.
Long-term Kremlin ally Belarus has supported Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine since Feb 24 by acting as a rear base for Moscow’s forces.
Russian troops crossed the Belarusian border into Ukraine as they tried and failed to take the capital Kyiv.
Lukashenko is heavily dependent on Russia militarily and economically and relied on his neighbour’s support to stabilise his position when widespread protests broke out in 2020 after an election the Belarusian opposition say he stole.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last week that Moscow would deliver Iskander-M missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons to Belarus “in the coming months”.
“Less than a month ago, I ordered our armed forces to put in our sights the decision centres in your capitals,” Lukashenko said on Saturday, citing the missiles promised by Putin and the Belarusian rocket-launcher Polonez.