Alexander Lukashenko is one of the few people who truly understands Vladimir Putin.
The authoritarian ruler of Belarus is a staunch supporter of what Mr. Putin refers to as the "special military operation"—more commonly known as Russia's conflict in Ukraine.
Mr. Putin hasn't had a conversation with Western journalists since he invaded Ukraine in full a year ago.
However, Mr. Lukashenko answered questions from a small group of foreign media outlets today in Minsk, including the BBC.
I prompted Mr. Lukashenko, "You permitted your nation to be used as a staging area for Russia's invasion last year. "Are you ready to do that again?".
He responded, "Yes, I'm ready.". "I'm willing to give [territory] once more. Additionally, from Belarusian soil, I'm prepared to fight alongside the Russians. But only if someone, even a single soldier, comes into our country from that country (Ukraine) with the intention of killing my people. ".
With joint exercises and the creation of a joint military organization, military cooperation between Russia and Belarus has increased. But the leader of Belarus has refrained from sending his troops into Ukraine to fight alongside Russian forces thus far.
The United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom do not recognize Alexander Lukashenko as the rightful leader of Belarus. Belarusians flocked to the streets in 2020 to accuse him of rigging the national election for president. The protests were violently put down.
The incident on Thursday was used by Mr. Lukashenko to accuse the West of starting the war in Ukraine.
With a hint of Putinian nuclear sabre-rattling, he charged that Western governments were fomenting the conflict.
"If this escalation continues, you will acquire nuclear weapons, and Russia has more than anyone," he warned.
"So you need to stop this. Belarus will vanish if a nuclear conflict breaks out. Because a nuclear war will also destroy the USA, we need to sit down and negotiate. This is unnecessary. ".
The Belarusian leader now asserts he can assist in peace negotiations after facilitating Russia's invasion of Ukraine a year ago.
Due to US President Joe Biden's scheduled visit to Poland, Mr. Lukashenko suggested that next week would be a good time to get things going.
President Biden is welcome to visit Belarus, Mr. Lukashenko said. It's not far from Warsaw; it'll only take him 30 minutes to get to Minsk. His aircraft could land here. I'll convince the Russian president to attend. Along with Biden, I extend an invitation to him as well. We'll talk it over while we're seated. " .
The US president is probably going to decline the invitation. Mr. Lukashenko is not regarded in this conflict as an honest middleman.