Belarus opposition slam 'traitor' Lukashenko for helping Russia in unprovoked Ukraine invasion
Belarus's exiled opposition leader on Thursday accused her country's strongman president of committing "high treason" by letting thousands of Russian soldiers launch attacks on neighbouring Ukraine from its territory.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who the West believes was the true winner of August 2020 elections that kept Alexander Lukashenko in power, also called for international sanctions against his regime over his role in the invasion.
The Russian troops arrived in Belarus purportedly for joint military drills, but Lukashenko admitted Thursday he had suggested to Russia's Vladimir Putin that they stay in order to attack Ukraine from the north.
"The illegitimate ruler brought in foreign troops and made Belarus a material party to this armed conflict," Tikhanovskaya told a press conference at the Lithuanian embassy during a trip to Paris.
"This is high treason and a betrayal of the interests of our people and the Belarusian state," she said, calling Belarus "an aggressor state in accordance with the UN definition of aggression."
Despite a pledge that Belarus troops are not joining the Ukraine offensive, "Lukashenko has indicated that the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus might be taking part in the hostilities," Tikhanovskaya said.
There are around 30,000 Russian troops in Belarus currently as well as extensive military hardware, Tikhanovskaya had told AFP in an interview Wednesday, warning that their presence put Belarus's independence "under threat."
"We are ashamed of the role our country's territory has played in this war," she said Thursday.
"I call on the international community to impose the strongest possible sanctions on Lukashenko's regime, as soon as possible," she said.
EU chief Charles Michel urged Belarus to "not take part" in Russia's military assault on Ukraine, ahead of an emergency European Union summit to decide on new sanctions against Moscow.