ASTANA, 14 October (BelTA) – Neither Belarus nor Russia wants the current situation to escalate but are forced to react to the actions of the West and defend themselves, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in an interview with the U.S. broadcaster NBC in Astana on 14 October, BelTA has learned.
When asked whether he is afraid of escalation, Aleksandr Lukashenko said: "I am. I don't want any escalation. President Putin and I have just had a brief discussion about this. No one wants that. Neither Belarus nor Russia. Human lives are precious to us. But you understand that it does not depend on us. Once the West, some countries of the West and you know which ones, decide against escalation, there will be none. We're not pushing for escalation, we're just defending ourselves."
Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled the statements made by the Polish authorities about the need to deploy nuclear weapons on their territory. They have even conducted a sociological survey on this topic. "They claim that more than 50% of Poles are in favor of their country hosting nuclear weapons, USA bringing them there. I don't think most Poles hold this view. It is their leadership that are escalating the situation. Now they claim that Polish people support this idea," the president said.
“Of course, it bothers us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. The head of state added that Belarus has been taking counter-terrorism measures in response to the emerging situation, and began deploying the regional group of forces in the western direction together with Russia.
The president was asked how strong this group of forces will be. “You know our army is about 70,000 people. This is the core. I think that today there is no need to demand 10,000-15,000 soldiers from Russia. It currently has enough issues to deal with. You know what I am referring to. So, we will proceed from this number. Our military are getting ready,” he replied.
The journalist recalled the words of the head of state that the main thing was to prevent Belarus from being drawn into hostilities. “Will you hold out? Will you be able to avoid it?” he asked.
“For sure. Even if we get dragged, we will be able to hold ground. We will keep this direction protected. They are already making statements (I don't want to name sources) ‘We will go straight.' This is what Americans say at their gatherings in Warsaw. We see and hear it. It means they will go through Belarus, like some did in the past. It is very unlikely that they will succeed. We see it, hear it, and it troubles us. We are trying to not let this happen. This is our policy,” said the Belarusian leader.