Russia’s invasion of Ukraine came in the wee hours
of February 24 after President Vladimir Putin decided to run a “special
military operation” in the neighbouring country to ‘demilitarise’ and
‘denazification’ Ukraine. In the name of protecting Ukrainians and Russian
speaking people, Putin’s forces bombed cities, destroyed Ukrainian provinces,
villages and infrastructure.
“President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that
will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering,” Biden said in a
statement announcing additional sanctions against Russia.
In this regional conflict which has a global effect,
Belarus is the only country that has directly supported Russia’s invasion of
Ukraine and welcomed Russian troops into their own soil to help them attack
Kharkiv city of northeast Ukraine.
Before the February 24 attack, Belarus, which was part of the erstwhile USSR just like Ukraine, had hosted
Russia for a special military exercise. Though a part of the Russian troops
returned homewards, a major portion remained in Belarus.
Lukashenko offers to support to Russian troops
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko denied that
Belarusian troops have been involved in the attack but has said he will support
Russian troops if necessary, TIME reported, citing Belarus state media.
“By now, his country is basically part of the
Russian military space,” Jörg Forbrig, Director for Central and Eastern Europe
of the German Marshall Fund, told TIME of Lukashenko, noting that Belarus has
essentially surrendered its sovereignty. “It is a staging ground for the Russian
In view of the development, the US Treasury said on February 24 that it would be “sanctioning 24 Belarusian individuals and
entities due to Belarus’s support for, and facilitation of, the invasion.”
“Treasury continues to disrupt Belarus’s military
and financial capabilities through targeted sanctions,” US Treasury Janet
Yellen said in a statement. “Further, due to the interconnectedness between the
two countries, the actions Treasury took against Russia today will also impose
severe economic pain on the (Lukashenko) regime.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during
a news conference on February 25 that “the world will hold Russia and Belarus
accountable for their actions”.
“Russia as the aggressor, Belarus as the enabler,”
Stoltenberg further said.