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.”

The Belarusian president also accused Russia of trying to bolster its influence over Belarus by pushing to control its energy pipelines and using oil and gas supplies as a lever of power.

“Russia has often grabbed the oil and gas pipeline. It is happening now as well,” he said. He added that “after such conflicts they have always told me, ‘We went a bit too far.’ But why grab the vital thing? Why grab us by the throat?”

 

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Featured image courtesy of AFP.