Belarus leader, in U-turn, says annexed Crimea is legally Russian


FILE PHOTO: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks to migrants as he visits the transport and logistics centre Bruzgi on the Belarusian-Polish border, in the Grodno region, Belarus November 26, 2021. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday that the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014, was legally Russian territory, RIA news agency reported, in a reversal of his public stance.

Belarus is a close ally of Russia, but did not recognise the peninsula as Russian after Moscow seized it in an annexation that drew condemnation and economic sanctions from the West.

Most of the world still recognises the territory as Ukrainian, and Kyiv wants it back.

"Crimea is de facto Russian. After the referendum Crimea also became de jure Russian," Lukashenko was quoted as telling RIA. He was referring to a 2014 vote that Russia held as part of the annexation, which was dismissed by Kyiv and the West.

Lukashenko said any visit by him to the peninsula would signal Minsk's recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia, and that he was awaiting an invitation from Moscow to visit, RIA reported.

Despite its close relations with the Kremlin, Belarus, a former Soviet republic, struck a neutral public stance in 2014 as Russia seized Crimea and backed separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine, a war that Kyiv says has killed 14,000 people.

But Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has grown increasingly close to Russia since huge protests erupted last year following an election in which he claimed victory but which his opponents say was rigged.

Financial and political backing from Moscow helped him weather the protests.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Alex Richardson and Gareth Jones)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In World

Factbox-Russian military drills in Belarus create new threats for Ukraine
Barbados to hold first election since becoming a republic
North Macedonia and Bulgaria agree to work on issues blocking EU talks
Roads in Sudan's capital barricaded as strike against protest deaths starts
Germany could halt pipeline if Russia attacks Ukraine, Scholz signals
World tourism inched back in 2021, still a fraction of pre-pandemic levels
U.S.'s Blinken to visit Ukraine following Russia talks
Two close aides of Pope Francis test positive for COVID-19, Vatican says
Tongans fear never seeing loved ones again amid communications void
Analysis-Best supporting actor? NATO in secondary role if Russia invades Ukraine

Others Also Read


Vouchers