President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko gave an interview to Ukrainian journalist Diana Panchenko, in which he spoke about the special military operation in Ukraine and his conversation with Putin shortly before hostilities erupted. The interview was published on the official YouTube channel of the journalist.
Lukashenko did not discuss preparations for the special military operation with Putin. He learned about the beginning of the special operation from Putin's televised address.
"We never discussed anything about Russia's actions against Ukraine,” Lukashenko said.
However, "a few days or a day" before the start of hostilities, they had a conversation in Putin's suburban residence, where the Russian president reminded Lukashenko of allied obligations.
"He literally told me: "Listen, Sash (Sasha of Sash is a short for Alexander — ed.), we're having a situation. God forbid something happens, we are allies, of course. If something happens suddenly, anything can happen. Cover me, please," Lukashenko said quoting Putin.
When planning the special military operation, Putin feared a stab in the back from the West. That is why, Lukashenko said, after the start of the operation, Putin publicly stated that Belarus "would not allow to shoot Russians in the back."
Belarus will not enter into hostilities unless the Armed Forces of Ukraine violate the borders of the country.
"If the Ukrainians do not cross our border, we will never participate in this war,” Lukashenko said adding that Belarus would always be helping Russia.
"If you cross the red lines, then we will strike decision-making centres. We will do it without warning," Alexander Lukashenko said warning Ukraine.
According to Lukashenko, Russia is not trying to get Belarus involved in the conflict.
"This is total nonsense. Do you know why? Because it won't yield anything," he said.
According to him, the 70,000-strong army of Belarus will not give Russia any advantage at all. Lukashenko is confident that Russia has "enough manpower and equipment."
At the same time, the parties should sit down at the negotiating table, or Ukraine will cease to exist otherwise, Lukashenko believes.
Russia's goals of the special military operation in Ukraine have already been achieved, and Kyiv will no longer behave aggressively towards Moscow, the Belarusian president believes.
"We have not discussed the topic [Russia's success based on the results of a special operation] with [Putin]. But I dare to express my position. The goals of the special military operation have already been achieved. Ukraine will never behave so aggressively against Russia after this war ends, as it was behaving before the war,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
In this regard, he called on the parties to sit down at the negotiating table to discuss issues related to Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. Lukashenko admitted the participation of Belarus in the talks.
"Negotiations must begin without preconditions. This is classic diplomacy," Lukashenko said.
Otherwise, Ukraine may disappear. According to Lukashenko, if Kyiv refuses to negotiate, Russia will "grind" the Ukrainian manpower and equipment.
"The Ukrainians will not cope with this machine,” he added.
The Belarusian leader admitted that Putin would become Russia's next president as he has no rivals at the moment. At the same time, Putin has not thought of a successor, Lukashenko believes.
Ukraine's sitting President Volodymyr Zelensky is unlikely to be able to stay in powe. Kyiv's reluctance to negotiate with Moscow may eventually lead to a coup when Ukrainian military topple Zelensky. If this scenario does not come true, and Zelensky takes part in elections, he will lose to a candidate from among former high-ranking military officials.
"Kirill Budanov (Head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense) or someone else will become president. Someone from the military, but not him," Lukashenko said.
Other interesting aspects from the interview:
"Volodya (Lukashenko was addressing Volodymyr Zelensky, Volodya is a short for Vladimir/Volodymyr - ed.), you must make sure that it doesn't get worse. What's done is done, and those who are to blame will have to answer for this. Based on today, one needs to stop, stop the war, stop the negative development of events, which will be negative for Ukraine in the first place. If you fight for these territories, you will lose others."
"Putin told me: "You know, we can take Kyiv immediately, but a huge number of people will die."
The journalist then said that many believe in Ukraine that it was President Zelensky, who protected Kyiv from Russia's attack. Lukashenko responded by saying that it was all media hype that did not reflect the real state of affairs.
"Russia could have taken Kyiv in two days. Zelensky should thank Jews and Catholics, who, most likely, guaranteed that if Putin did not take Kyiv, then everything would be fine. I will not say anything else in this regard. Let Putin and Zelensky talk. No one defended Kyiv," Alexander Lukashenko said.
"I think that the Ukrainians will not let it happen. Zelensky is moving towards this: you (the Ukrainians - ed.) already equate Polish policemen or civil servants with Ukrainian ones. Poland has a military department to help Ukraine. If the Poles come in, you won’t expel them, because there is the USA behind Poland's back. Then it will be Polish territory that could be incorporated into NATO. They will make it this way, but this is unacceptable for us as well as for the Russians. One needs to preserve the integrity of Ukraine. And then talk. This is what you, the Ukrainians, need to do."
"Russia has 250,000-strong reserves armed with modern military equipment. They will grind you, and then they will do what you are most afraid of - they will cut you off to Moldova, to Transnistria. Ukraine no longer has motivated, ideologically minded Nazis. All of them have been annihilated by now. Who is fighting here now? The ones you catch in the streets and then take them here - they are not prepared. There are not many soldiers either. They will not be able to cope with this machine."
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky fears that his country may split into two similarly to the Korean scenario.