The United States has warned the regime of Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka it would also face a “decisive response” if it assists ally Russia in invading their neighbor Ukraine.
"We've also made clear to Belarus that if it allows its territory to be used for an attack on Ukraine, it would face a swift and decisive response from the United States and our allies and partners," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on January 25.
"If an invasion were to proceed from Belarus, if Russian troops were to permanently station on their territory, NATO could well have to reassess our own force posture in the countries that border Belarus," he added.
Alarms have been sounding throughout Western capitals about the danger of a new major conflict after Russia massed what Ukrainian intelligence estimates to be 127,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders and deployed a sizable force in Belarus for what Moscow and Minsk say will be snap military exercises.
The United States and NATO fear the military buildup could be preparations for a potential invasion, something Moscow has denied, and warn that a Russian attack would trigger damaging economic sanctions, as well as a beefed-up presence of the Western military alliance in Eastern Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed Lukashenka in its standoff with the West over a disputed presidential election in August 2020 that handed the Belarusian leader a sixth consecutive term in office.
The official election results triggered a wave of protests, with Lukashenka responding with a brutal crackdown on dissent that has seen thousands detained and most opposition politicians leaving the country in fear for their security.
Earlier this month, Lukashenka said that joint Russian-Belarusian military maneuvers will be held in February close to the country's borders with Ukraine as well as eastern NATO member states.
He said the drills would focus on a scenario in which his country's military is forced to "resist forces coming from the West."