EU tells Belarus to 'not take part' in Russian attack on Ukraine

AFP , Thursday 24 Feb 2022

EU chief Charles Michel on Thursday urged Belarus to "not take part" in Russia's military assault on Ukraine, ahead of an emergency European Union summit to decide new sanctions on Moscow over its invasion.

Timote Suladze, a citizen of Belarus and Russia, burns a Russian passport to demonstrates against Russian attacks in Ukraine in front of the Russian embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. AP

In an appeal to Belarus and its people during a media conference at NATO headquarters, Michel said: "You have the choice not to follow Russia's destructive action. You have the choice not to take part in this needless tragedy against your neighbours in Ukraine."

Belarus, a Russian ally that borders Ukraine to the north, has welcomed tens of thousands of Russian troops in its territory in the wake of mass pro-democracy protests that erupted in 2020 after autocratic leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in skewed elections.

Belarus is permitting those troops to pour across its border into Ukraine and to using their positions to hammer Ukrainian forces with artillery, according to Ukraine's government.

Lukashenko on Thursday said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had called him to inform him of his military operation against Ukraine. He said that Belarus's own national forces "are not taking part in this operation".

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