Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko has ordered the army to take “stringent measures” against NATO troops, who are “seriously stirring” near the country’s borders.
Inspecting military units near Belarus’s border with Poland, Lukashenko said he ordered his defense minister to defend western Belarus, as NATO troops in Poland and Lithuania were deployed near their borders with Belarus.
“It involves taking the most stringent measures to protect the territorial integrity of our country,” he said.
The president visited the Grodno region ahead of large-scale military exercises planned for the end of this month.
NATO, however, rejected that it deployed troops to the region, saying the US-led military alliance “poses no threat to Belarus or any other country and has no military buildup in the region.”
Lukashenko has already expressed concern about foreign meddling in the internal affairs of his country.
Last week, he warned about potential military action by NATO against Belarus.
He blames the US and its European allies for sponsoring violent protests by the opposition, which contests the re-election of Lukashenko in the August 9 presidential vote.
“The US is planning and directing it, and the Europeans are playing along,” Lukashenko said on Friday.
The Belarus president said the opposition was trying to stage a coup against his government.
The European Union (EU) this week rejected his re-election and vowed to levy sanctions against the country.
Tikhanovskaya will not run for president
Opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania after losing the election to Lukashenko, said on Saturday that she will not run for president again.
“During the campaign I didn’t see myself as a politician but I pushed myself forward,” she said. “I don’t see myself in politics. I am not a politician.”
Tikhanouskaya, 37, who was an English teacher, entered the presidential race after authorities jailed her husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, a popular blogger who intended to run.
She admitted that she had received calls from foreign governments including Canada, the United States, Britain, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and others.
Lukashenko won Belarus’ presidential election earlier this month by a landslide, securing a sixth term in office.
Opposition supporters have been alleging vote rigging and have staged rallies in protest.