Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has called on Russians not to consider his country as their "lackey."
"I want Russians, especially the Russian leadership, to understand that we will never be lackeys," Lukashenka said on April 21 in his annual address to the nation and parliament. "We are a separate, sovereign state that lives along with you in one house but we have our own apartment, which is small, not big, but ours."
Lukashenka said Russia was a leading strategic partner for Belarus, but added that the West was also very important for his country.
Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia will always be living in a "common Slavic space," he also said.
The president also called for a reformation and modernization of the Commonwealth of Independent States.