Europe's "last dictator" reaches out to Putin's Russia for help

Beleaguered Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday reached out to long-term ally Russia as he faces growing pressure to step down following a disputed election that has triggered protests at home and condemnation abroad.

“There is a need to contact Putin so that I can talk to him now, because it is not a threat to just Belarus anymore,” Lukashenko said, according to state news agency Belta.

“Defending Belarus today is no less than defending our entire space, the union state... Those who roam the streets, most of them do not understand this.”

Citing Belarusian media, Interfax said Lukashenko had discussed the situation with Putin in a telephone call. The Russian news agency gave no details.

Lukashenko has accused the protesters of being in league with foreign backers, and warned them to stay at home to avoid becoming “cannon fodder”.



Moscow this week also accused unnamed countries of “outside meddling” in Belarus. Russia has itself, it has been widely reported, sent mercenaries into the country.

Lukashenko has previously rejected Russian calls for closer political and economic union, but with his position, and possibly even his life in the balance he appears to be on the verge of capitulating and handing Putin's Russia another border with NATO and EU countries.

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