MINSK, March 1. /TASS/. Several surface-to-air missile battalions in Ukraine near the Belarusian border prepared to deliver a strike at the Russian troops staying in Belarus, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at an enlarged meeting of the country’s Security Council on Tuesday.
"Our reconnaissance and the Russians detected several surface-to-air and missile battalions on the territory of Ukraine in close proximity to the Belarusian border preparing to deliver a strike at the Russian troops in the areas of their concentration on Belarusian soil," Lukashenko said.
"Simultaneously with announcing a decision on Russia’s operation [for demilitarizing and denazifying Ukraine], a pre-emptive strike was delivered against these heavy weapons, positions to prevent losses and impact on Belarus," the BelTA news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying.
As the Belarusian leader pointed out, "had we not done this, these missiles would have reached Gomel and Mozyr."
As Lukashenko said, the Russian forces staying in Belarus were expected to be involved in Russia’s special operation in Ukraine. "Naturally, the group of forces that remained on the territory of Belarus was expected to be used. And I was informed about that at five o’clock on the morning on February 24," Lukashenko said.
The situation at the line of engagement in Donbass escalated on the morning of February 17. The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) reported the most massive bombardments by the Ukrainian military over past months, which damaged civilian infrastructure and caused civilian casualties.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address on the morning of February 24 that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories and the operation was aimed at demilitarizing and denazifying Ukraine.