MINSK – Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has lashed out at Russia, accusing his powerful neighbor of violating treaties and using its role as an energy supplier to “grab us by the throat.”

Speaking to journalists in Minsk on February 3, Lukashenka harshly criticized Moscow’s recent decision to establish a “security zone” with border controls along the two countries’ shared border.

Russia made the move to secure the previously open border after Minsk announced it was granting visa-free entry to Belarus to short-term visitors from some 80 countries as of February 9.

At his press conference, Lukashenka said Russia had “crossed out” existing treaties with Belarus “with the stroke of a pen.”