Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday (Feb 16) he would only order his troops to fight alongside ally Russia if another country launches an attack against Belarus, the state-run Belta news agency reported.
Lukashenko, who has repeatedly denied claims from Kyiv and the West that his country could be dragged further into the war in Ukraine on the side of Moscow, also said he planned to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
"I am ready to fight with the Russians from the territory of Belarus in only one case: If even one soldier comes onto the territory of Belarus to kill my people," Belta quoted Lukashenko as telling a news conference on Thursday. "If they commit aggression against Belarus, the response will be the most severe, and the war will take on a completely different nature."
Russia used Belarus as a staging post for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, launching its failed offensive on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv from the country.
A flurry of military activity and joint air force drills between Russia and Belarus earlier this year rekindled concerns that Minsk could be preparing to take a more active role in the conflict.