Lukashenko: “No Other Option” But To Use Russian Strategic Bombers For Border Patrols

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has claimed that he needs the presence of Russian strategic bombers on Belarus’ border with Poland in order to “monitor” the migrant crisis there.

The November 12 statements followed a training exercise by two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers over Belarus, where the two nuclear-capable bombers conducted mock bombing runs. Minsk had said on Wednesday that such flights would now be conducted on a regular basis, after two Russian Tu-22M3s trained with Belarusian ground command posts that day.

Video released by the Russian Ministry of Defense of the training mission.

In addition to threatening to shut off the flow of Russian natural gas that travels through Belarus to Europe in retaliation for any new sanctions imposed over the crisis, Lukashenko said:

“We have to constantly monitor the situation at the border. Let them squeak, let them shout. Yes, these are bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. But we have no other option. We must see what they are doing there beyond the borders.”

Belarusian state media also quoted the autocrat as claiming that there were attempts being made to transfer weapons to migrants stuck at the Poland-Belarus border as a provocation. However, no evidence was supplied, nor any details on who exactly was being accused of supplying weapons.

A diplomat that spoke to Euronews has suggested that European Union foreign ministers may approve a fifth package of sanctions on Belarus as soon as next Monday. According to the diplomat, the EU’s executive commission has decided to include airlines operating flights transporting migrants to Minsk as targets for sanctions, alongside other individuals and companies.

Iraq’s embassy in Minsk has announced that it will be organizing an evacuation flight for Iraqi citizens “wishing to return” from Belarus, posting a WhatsApp number and email address for contact by those willing to return. However, with reports of Belarusian soldiers forcing back migrants who wish to leave encampments along the border fence, it is unclear as to whether anyone who wishes to be evacuated will be allowed to by Belarusian authorities.