On Thursday, the increasingly beleaguered Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko announced that troops would be put on high alert as he closed borders with Lithuania and Poland.

“We are compelled to withdraw our troops from the streets, have half our army on guard and close our state border with the West, first of all with Lithuania and Poland,” said Lukashenko. “To our greatest regret, we are compelled to strengthen our border with brotherly Ukraine.”

“I don’t want my country to be at war. Moreover, I don’t want Belarus, Poland [and] Lithuania to turn into a theatre of military operations where [sic] our issues will not be resolved,” he added.

“Therefore, today […] I want to appeal to the peoples of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine — stop your crazy politicians, don’t let war break out!”

The border closure comes after six weeks of massive protests calling for Lukashenko’s resignation. The protests sprang as a result of August’s contentious election, which many critics of Lukashenko’s regime, including the U.S. and the E.U., have said were full of irregularities. In the elections, Lukashenko declared victory with a supposed 80 percent of the vote.

Lukashenko, a Stalinesque strongman who has ruled with an iron fist for more than a quarter-century, has said that the protests are all orchestrated by the West. These accusations were called out as a cheap propaganda tactic by the rest of Europe which has been aligning against his regime. 

“We take this as another element of the propaganda campaign, a psychological game which aims to create a sense of an external threat,” Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski said to Reuters.

Following the initial protests, Lukashenko’s security police arrested more than 7,000 people and brutally beat hundreds of detainees.