Belarus dictator Lukashenko says his army not involved in Ukraine invasion
Belarus' leader Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday that his military is not taking part in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, state media reported, although it is believed that Russian forces might have used Belarusian territory to cross into Ukraine.
"Our armed forces are not taking part in this operation," Lukashenko, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said. Moscow has stationed tens of thousands of troops in Belarus.
Belarus, often described as Europe's last dictatorship, is a key ally of Russia, and Lukashenko and Putin are said to be close.
Bordering Ukraine, Belarus has been seen as a potential launchpad for the Russian invasion.
Russia's ground forces on Thursday crossed into Ukraine from several directions, Ukraine's border guard service said, hours after President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a major offensive.
Russian tanks and other heavy equipment crossed the frontier in several northern regions, as well as from the Kremlin-annexed peninsula of Crimea in the south, the agency said.