MINSK, 6 May (BelTA) – Vladimir Putin was not going and is not going to occupy Ukraine, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in an interview with the Associated Press, BelTA has learned.
“To be honest, I did not think that this conflict would still drag on. Vladimir Putin called it a special military operation, he did not declare war, because his goal and the goal of the military was not to occupy Ukraine and bring it to its knees. I will tell you more. After the first conflict, after the Crimea, the first clash, Lugansk, Donetsk and so on, Russia was not very involved in this conflict. I personally heard suggestions that Putin should go to Transnistria from Donetsk and take the entire south of Ukraine, cut it off from the sea, which they are trying to do now. Putin said: no, I cannot agree to that. There were many people who supported his decision not to do it. He could have done it in 2015, in 2014 very easily. I know about it firsthand,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“The same thing now: he was not going and is not going to occupy Ukraine and put it on its knees. One of the reasons for it is that he does not want to tear Ukraine apart and to allow Americans, Poles, Romanians to take separate parts of Ukraine. He does not want this. He wants to see a friendly, integral Ukraine. I fully support him, this is my position. Yet, it should be a country that does not create problems for its neighbors. This is the goal of this operation,” the head of state said.
“Therefore, to be honest, I did not think that this operation would still be ongoing this way. I am not so immersed in this issue to say whether it has been going according to the plan as the Russians say, or how I feel it. My feeling is that this operation is taking too long. This is how I see it based on the facts that I know,” the Belarusian leader said.
“Yet, I emphasize once again that I do not know all the details to answer the question whether things are going according to their plan,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.