In Brief

Vladimir Putin prepares security force to put down Belarus election protests

Russian president confirms he is ready to send support to bolster Alexander Lukashenko’s rule

Russian President Vladimir Putin has formed a police force to intervene in Belarus if he decides it is necessary to support embattled President Alexander Lukashenko. 

Speaking on Russian state TV, Putin said Lukashenko “asked me to set up a certain police reserve - I have done so”.

He went on to say that the pair also agreed that it “won’t be used until the situation gets out of control”, suggesting that there are no imminent plans to deploy the security force.

The comments are “the Kremlin’s most forthright show of support” for Lukashenko, The Times says, who has been battling with street protests since a disputed election on 8 August in which he claimed a landslide victory.

“We agreed that [the Russian force] will not be used until the situation gets out of control, and when extremist elements, hiding behind slogans, cross certain lines and engage in brigandry,” Putin said. 

The Russian president added that his red line for intervention would be when protesters began “burning cars, houses, banks and trying to seize administrative buildings”.

Russia has an “obligation to help Belarus with its security under the two countries’ close alliance”, Putin said, stressing “the deep cultural, ethnic and linguistic ties between the two nations”, the BBC reports. 

“The decision is a boon” for Lukashenko, The Times adds, who is facing strikes of up to 200,000 people each weekend. However, experts suspect that Putin would rather see the demonstrations “fade away”, than face a decision over whether to intervene.

Writing for American international affairs think tank the Atlantic Council, Steven Pifer, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, says that Russian involvement in his former posting was “instrumental in pushing Ukraine away from Russia and toward the West”. 

“Does Moscow want to repeat this mistake with Belarus?” Pifer adds. “At present, [Putin] appears inclined to make the wrong decision, with potentially costly implications for Russia.”

Recommended

Scottish independence odds and polls: will Scotland vote to leave the UK?
Nicola Sturgeon is re-elected to position of first minister
In Depth

Scottish independence odds and polls: will Scotland vote to leave the UK?

Travel row, rebellions and a dip in the polls: is Boris Johnson in trouble?
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak
Today’s big question

Travel row, rebellions and a dip in the polls: is Boris Johnson in trouble?

Belarusian sprinter seeking asylum after refusing to return to Minsk
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (left) alongside Beth Dobbin of Team GB
In Depth

Belarusian sprinter seeking asylum after refusing to return to Minsk

Should the UK be worried about the Beta variant in Spain and France?
Holidaymakers on a beach in Spain
Expert’s view

Should the UK be worried about the Beta variant in Spain and France?

Popular articles

Why your AstraZeneca vaccine may mean no European holidays
Boris Johnson receives his second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine
Getting to grips with . . .

Why your AstraZeneca vaccine may mean no European holidays

‘Wobbling’ Moon will cause worldwide flooding, Nasa warns
Flooding in Florida after Hurricane Irma hit in 2017
Why we’re talking about . . .

‘Wobbling’ Moon will cause worldwide flooding, Nasa warns

What next as homes raided in search for Hancock affair whistle-blower?
Matt Hancock leaving No. 10 with Gina Coladangelo in May 2020
The latest on . . .

What next as homes raided in search for Hancock affair whistle-blower?

The Week Footer Banner