Belarus votes to give up non-nuclear status | Russia-Ukraine crisis News

Belarusian referendum renouncing impartial standing comes as Russia put nuclear deterrent forces on excessive alert amid Ukraine conflict.

Voters in Belarus have accredited constitutional reforms that may permit the nation to host nuclear weapons at a time when the previous Soviet republic has change into a launchpad for Russian troops invading Ukraine.

Russian information businesses on Monday cited the Belarusian elections fee as saying that some 65.2 p.c of people that took half in a referendum voted in favour of the change.

The businesses stated voter turnout stood at 78.63 p.c.

The consequence got here as little shock, given the tightly managed rule of President Alexander Lukashenko.

It might convey nuclear weapons again on Belarusian soil for the primary time for the reason that nation gave them up after the autumn of the Soviet Union and raises the stakes at a time when Lukashenko has fallen behind Russian President Vladimir Putin’s army assault on Ukraine.

Putin on Sunday ordered Russian nuclear deterrent forces be placed on excessive alert in a dramatic escalation of tensions with the West.

Talking at a polling station on Sunday, Lukashenko stated that he might ask Russia to return nuclear weapons to Belarus.

“In the event you [the West] switch nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, to our borders, then I’ll flip to Putin to return the nuclear weapons that I gave away with none situations,” Lukashenko stated.

The constitutional referendum shedding Belarus’s non-nuclear standing opens the way in which for stronger army cooperation with Russia, which deployed forces to Belarusian territory underneath the pretext of army drills after which despatched them rolling into Ukraine as a part of the invasion that started on Thursday.

The reforms additionally cement Lukashenko’s 27-year-old grip on energy as they permit the president to remain in energy till 2035 and provides him lifetime immunity from prosecution as soon as he leaves workplace.

Moreover, the reforms give powers to the All-Belarusian Folks’s Meeting, introduced collectively to find out the nation’s priorities for the following 5 years and attainable amendments to the structure.

The meeting was created by Lukashenko and contains occasion loyalists, native councils, officers and activists of pro-government organisations.

The West has stated it is not going to recognise the outcomes of the referendum happening in opposition to the background of a sweeping crackdown on home opponents of the federal government.

Protesters demanding a brand new election and Lukashenko’s removing have confronted repression from the authorities, with greater than 35,000 arrested and 1000’s brutally crushed. Key opposition figures, together with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Lukashenko’s major contender within the election, left the nation amid the clampdown, together with 1000’s of Belarusians.

Tsikhanouskaya known as on Belarusians to make use of the referendum vote to protest the conflict in opposition to Ukraine.

“For a very long time I didn’t know the way to begin this enchantment. As a result of how will you demand brave actions from individuals who dwell in concern for a yr and a half? The conflict we’ve been dragged into began two days in the past,” she stated in a particular deal with.

“However till now, the Belarusians haven’t declared publicly that they’re in opposition to it, they haven’t proven this to the Ukrainians by their actions. So do I’ve the suitable to ask you for motion? Perhaps not. However I received’t forgive myself if I don’t strive.”

In movies and photographs posted on social media, dozens of individuals gathered at polling stations in Minsk and different cities in Belarus. A number of movies confirmed the group chanting “No to conflict”.

The workplace of Ukraine’s president on Sunday stated a delegation would meet Russian officers close to the Belarus border. The Ukrainian international minister stated he obtained reassurances that Belarus wouldn’t get entangled within the conflict whereas talks went on.

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