Russia has formed a ‘law enforcement unit’ at the request of embattled Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko; the Kremlin says the forces will only be used if opposition forces push the situation ‘out of control’.
Lukashenko has been battling to stay in power after an election which many in the West, and the opposition in Belarus, see as rigged.
“Alexander Grigoryevich [Lukashenko] has asked me to form a backup law enforcement unit, and I have done so. However, we also agreed that it won’t be used unless the situation gets out of control,” the [Russian] president said, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
He explained that the unit would not be used “unless extremist elements hiding behind political slogans cross certain lines,” namely, unless they begin to “torch houses, banks, to try seizing administrative buildings and so on.”
“However, Alexander Grigoryevich and I decided that there is no need for that yet, and I hope that there won’t be one. This is why we are not using this backup unit,” Putin explained.
Russia will not deploy these forces unless “extremist elements in Belarus cross a line and start plundering,” Putin said in the interview with the state-run Rossia 24 broadcaster, reported The Moscow Times.
Russia and Belarus enjoy a loose political affiliation called the ‘Union State’ which was formed after the fall of the Soviet Union. Lukashenko in the past has resisted further integration with Moscow, preferring to maintain sovereignty.
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