Putin turns to Lukashenko as Belarusian dictator agrees to join forces over Ukraine war
Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko signed the agreement after a powerful explosion seriously damaged Russia’s road-and-rail bridge to Crimea.
10:13, Mon, Oct 10, 2022 | UPDATED: 12:42, Mon, Oct 10, 2022
Belarus: Lukashenko discusses mobilisation to harvest potatoes
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Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said Belarus and Russia will deploy a joint military task force in response to what he called an aggravation of tension on the country’s western borders, the state-run Belta news agency reported on Monday. Mr Lukashenko said the two countries would deploy a regional military group, and had started pulling forces together two days ago, apparently after the explosion on Russia’s bridge to Crimea.
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Russian forces used Belarus as a staging post for their February 24 invasion of Ukraine, sending troops and equipment into northern Ukraine from bases in Belarus.
The Belarusian leader said: “It will be more than one thousand people.” He added that he instructed the KGB to carry out “anti-terrorist measures”.
It comes as Russia struck cities across Ukraine during rush hour on Monday morning, killing civilians and destroying infrastructure in apparent revenge after President Vladimir Putin declared an explosion on the bridge to Crimea to be a terrorist attack.
- Cruise missiles tore into busy intersections, parks and tourist sites in the centre of downtown Kyiv, with an intensity unseen even when Russian forces attempted to capture the capital early in the war.
- Explosions were also reported in Lviv, Ternopil and Zhytomyr in Ukraine’s west, Dnipro and Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia in the south and Kharkiv in the east.
Vladimir Putin and Lukashenko agreed to the deployment of joint troops (Image: GETTY)
Lukashenko is Putin’s closest ally (Image: GETTY)
Are Putin’s nuclear threats a real cause to worry?
In February 2022, shortly before invading Ukraine, President Putin placed Russia’s nuclear forces at “special combat readiness” and held high-profile nuclear drills.
More recently, he said: “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without a doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff.”
US intelligence see this as a threat to the West not to help Ukraine try and retake these territories, rather than as a sign that he is planning a nuclear war.
- But others worry that Russia, if it suffers further setbacks, might be tempted to use a smaller tactical weapon in Ukraine as a “game changer”, to break a stalemate or avoid defeat.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the rush hour attacks appeared to have been deliberately timed to kill people.
- In Kyiv, the body of a man in jeans lay in a street at a major intersection, surrounded by flaming cars.
- In a park, a soldier cut through the clothes of a woman who lay in the grass to try to treat her wounds. Two other women were bleeding nearby.
- A huge crater gaped next to a children’s playground in a central Kyiv park.
- The remains of an apparent missile were buried, smoking in the mud.
More volleys of missiles struck the capital again later in the morning.
Pedestrians huddled for shelter at the entrance of Metro stations and inside parking garages.
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By mid-morning, Ukraine’s defence ministry said Russia had fired 75 cruise missiles, and Ukraine’s air defences had shot down 41 of them. Kyiv city police said at least five people had been killed and 12 wounded in the capital.
Security camera footage posted online showed a cloud of shrapnel and flame engulfing a glass-bottomed footbridge across parkland in the city centre, one of Kyiv’s most popular tourist sites. The bridge appeared to have been empty at the time.