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Kremlin says it sees no need to help Belarus militarily for now

epa08611396 People attend a rally in support of the Belarusian Opposition to demonstrate against police brutality and the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, 18 August 2020. The Belarus opposition has called for a general strike from 17 August, a day after tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the capital Minsk in peaceful protest. Long-time president Lukashenko, in a defiant speech on 16 August, rejected calls to step down amid mounting pressure after unrest erupted in the country over alleged poll-rigging and police violence at protests following election results claiming that he had won a landslide victory in the 09 August elections. EPA-EFE/YAUHEN YERCHAK
By Reuters
19 Aug 2020 0

MOSCOW, Aug 19 (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Wednesday it saw no need for Russia to help Belarus militarily or otherwise for now amid unrest there over an Aug. 9 presidential election which protesters say was rigged.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in a conference call with reporters, said Belarus itself saw no need for Russian help for now either.

He accused unnamed foreign powers of interfering in Belarus, however, and said that such interference was unacceptable. Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in the last 11 days, braving a crackdown by the authorities, to demand President Alexander Lukashenko resign after he claimed a landslide election victory.

Belarus and Russia are close allies and members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and, on paper, part of a union state.

When asked about the possibility of Russia offering Belarus military assistance, something the Kremlin has said is available if necessary, Peskov said:

“As far as the collective security treaty and union state treaty are concerned, it is true that there are various obligations between the sides for mutual help, but there is currently no such need.”

He added: “The Belarusian leadership also doesn’t see a need for that.”

Peskov said the situation in Belarus was an internal matter that should be resolved by Belarusians themselves. (Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Dmitry Antonov; editing by Maria Kiselyova/Andrew Osborn)

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